For the masses

Merrill Perlman has another good Language Corner article this week, on the meaning, origins and misconceptions of hoi polloi:

“Hoi polloi” is a Greek term—“hoi” for “the” and “polloi” for “many”—and it’s been used in English since at least the 1600s to mean “the masses.” (It’s not, however, directly related to the roots of our words “poll” and “politics.”)