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Looking for a word to describe a person who is rich in wealth, but is poor in class.

I've heard of words to describe poor people who have no class or manners, words to describe rich people who have class and manners, but I've not heard of a word to describe people who are rich in terms of wealth but lack manners and class.

Is there a specific word for that? I'm looking to describe a few men in politics who clearly best exemplify this but I don't have a word to describe them besides "poor in class but filthy rich"?

The sentence I wanted to use is:

"Some men in politics, such as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have very contrasting attributes. Because they are both filthy rich, yet class is nowhere to be seen, I like to call these two _________"

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This question has a lot in common with Word: Tacky Rich People/Trashy Wealthy People, which was closed 20 months ago as primarily opinion based. Clearly it should have been asked during a presidential primary campaign. – Sven Yargs Mar 22 at 7:47
a "Degenerate". – BooleanCheese Mar 23 at 13:58
How about ... uhm, "Politician"? :P – Masked Man Mar 23 at 16:10

15 Answers 15

up vote 56 down vote accepted

Is there a specific word for that?

Yes, yes there is.


a vulgar person, especially one whose vulgarity is the more conspicuous because of wealth, prominence, or pretensions to good breeding.


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I've up-voted because it's a great fit, although absent context describing the wealth of the subject (or a well-known subject) the reader may not assume the nuance is intended. As a practical matter , it's also so similar to the well-known "vulgar" that if they don't know of the nuanced definition they're unlikely to check the definition. – GetzelR Mar 20 at 15:05
Vulgarian is the right word. Think Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack. – CWill Mar 21 at 20:19
Trump was referred to as a "short-fingered vulgarian" by Spy magazine: npr.org/2016/03/07/469209254/… – twip Mar 21 at 22:41
Yeah, never would have known or assumed the implicit wealth aspect here. – KRyan Mar 23 at 19:02

nouveau riche (this means someone who recently became rich and thus lacking in taste)

a person who has suddenly risen to a higher economic status but has not gained social acceptance of others in that class


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This was my first thought on reading the question, but on second thought it focuses on social acceptance, not necessarily the lack of qualifications for acceptance, and is also unusable when the subject is in fact old money but still class-deficient, as is one public figure popularizing this question. – GetzelR Mar 20 at 15:08
instead of "lacking in taste" I think it might be more broadly accurate to say "lacking in refinement," because upper classes tend to discriminate in the way that they communicate and the things that they buy. As a person is exposed for longer they can gradually catch on and emulate the tastes of their new peers. This is not an increase of taste but rather a change in taste. – Douglas Held Mar 20 at 16:55
And if not nouveau riche then some other French term, since nothing says derision like denouncing someone in French. – Hot Licks Mar 21 at 1:08
Note that this isn't necessarily true for every case of "new wealth". This term implies that there's some sort of sociology (from the asker's definition) necessarily associated with sudden wealth. It seems the 'class' he's asking about is more about inherent behavior, than "unrefined etiquette". – jaska Mar 23 at 1:58

From M-W:


a person who has recently begun an activity, become successful, etc., and who does not show proper respect for older and more experienced people.

and Parvenu

a person from usually a low social position who has recently or suddenly become wealthy, powerful, or successful but who is not accepted by other wealthy, powerful, and successful people.

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I think it would be better to split this answer, so people can vote on both options separately. – SQB Mar 23 at 14:19

New Money

While someone mentioned "Nouveau riche", I've literally never heard that used in conversation and would have to look it up to understand its meaning. I think the phase you're really looking for that is commonly used is new money*, which sounds like it's talking about the wealth itself but actually refers to the person:

...refers to the man or woman who previously had belonged to a lower social class and economic stratum (rank) within that class; and that the new money—which constitutes his or her wealth—allowed upward social mobility and provided the means for conspicuous consumption

*which shares the same Wikipedia article with the French term

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In Australia, the trendy buzzword term is "Cashed-up Bogan".

From Wiktionary cashed-up bogan:

  1. (Australia) A person who is, or is perceived to be, unsophisticated or of a lower class background but achieving a high salary, who spends money on flashy or trashy items to fulfil their aspirations of higher social status. The stereotype includes having speech and mannerisms that are considered to denote poor education and uncultured upbringing, which is reflected in their bad taste possessions and lifestyles.

From Collins English Dictionary cashed up

  1. (Austral, informal) having plenty of money

From Collins English Dictionary bogan

noun (Austral, informal)
1. a fool
2. a hooligan

Related news at Dailymail.

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What does Bogan mean in AusE? Can you copy a dictionary definition of it into your answer? (Be sure to name and link back to the dictionary you took it from.) – Dan Bron Mar 20 at 11:37
Note this is Australian. An American would not say this. Any Brits, Canadians, Indians, etc care to weigh in if this is something they would say? – Jay Mar 21 at 13:56
@Jay the OP and the reference clearly states it is an Aussie saying. I don't see where the problem is. – Mari-Lou A Mar 21 at 15:23
@Mari-LouA My intent wasn't to say that Mr Grimm was lying. :-) Rather, I was simply trying to highlight that he identified the statement as Australian, and indeed it is not used in other English-speaking countries. Then I wonderered if it is used in ANY other English-speaking countries or if it is solely Australian. – Jay Mar 21 at 17:37
@Jay: New to me (UK). – Chris H Mar 21 at 20:16

Fur coat and no knickers a British expression for someone rich and vulgar

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Hi Eric and welcome to ELU! That is a fantastic saying, but can you provide a reference for it? – Dog Lover Mar 22 at 1:13
I think this is usually used to refer to women, rather than men. And seems to imply having married into money, or to be married to someone who has unexpectedly become richer than their social class might suggest. A movie portrayal of a criminal such as an East End gangster in the sixties might show them as being filthy rich and spending their money on material things such as gold jewellery or fur coats for their wife / girlfriend. This phrase might then be used to describe her lifestyle. – AdamV Mar 23 at 11:06


A rich but not a Noble person.

but it's also a synonyme of middle-class. people very focussed on possessions and behaving like the rich people. Can be pejorative

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Pretty good! Can you add a dictionary definition & link to your answer, to make it even better? – Dan Bron Mar 20 at 15:02
Pejorative use is pronounced with a diminutive "bougie/boojy". From the Ke$ha: “I don’t need you or your brand new Benz, or your boojy friends” – user662852 Mar 22 at 2:13
I don't think this fits. The defintions I've seen simply talk about middle class and conventional values. Lower class origins and social climbing aren't part of it. – Paul Johnson Mar 22 at 7:18
You're right, it's not perfect . 'nouveau riche' is the best definition I guess. – Ludovic Frérot Mar 22 at 7:37

Parvenu is a word of French origin to describe someone low-born who now has money but not the manners usually associated with wealth.

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I think we call them Yuppies (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=yuppie). That's the closest I know, but that's generally specific to college-age people (whether new to money or inherited it).

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I missed your post somehow; I posted the same answer but more or less nullified my post and voted your answer up. – David Blomstrom Mar 20 at 15:36
Yuppie is not so much a statement about the person's low class, but more the opposite -- that they've recently attained a higher class, even though they don't have "old money" or a society pedigree. – Hot Licks Mar 21 at 1:11
I wouldn't say yuppies have attained a higher class. The word derives from "young urban professional," and it generally describes a person who has simply acquired a lot of money. There's no better example than Seattle, which is overrun with yuppies. Even the corporate media have bemoaned the impact on Seattle, which some say has lost is soul. Seattle is drowning in money, but the yuppies don't care because they're just here to get rich quick and retire or move away. – David Blomstrom Mar 21 at 3:51
right, being a "yuppie" (young upwardly-mobile professional, or young urban professional) means you are a young upwardly-mobile professional, or young urban professional - it's not related to the "nouveau riche" vibe. – Joe Blow Mar 21 at 13:07

Consider, new-rich and nouveau arrive/arrivé

nouveau arrivé

: a person who has recently acquired fame, power, social standing, etc.

World Dictionary of Foreign Expressions: A Resource for Readers and Writers

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No one uses 'new-rich'. In English , it's either 'nouveau riche' or if it must be anglicized, 'new money'. – Mitch Mar 20 at 15:59

You could used the Chinese word for 'uncouth rich people' - tuhao (pinyin tǔ háo).

The "China has a word for its crass new rich" article on CNBC has more explanation of the nuances. For example:

Covering the inside of your Rolls-Royce with jade is tuhao. Or, the most popular use, the new gold iPhone 5s is now known in China as the "tuhao gold iPhone."

In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries was considering adding it, so it's not incredibly rare or archaic, but it seems that its influence may have waned with the recent global economic troubles.

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Could you provide us the pinyin for tuhao, in case we ever get to use it? – Phil H Mar 23 at 14:25
@PhilH of course, but you know that when English steals a word from another language, it is practically required that we mangle it beyond recognition to cover our tracks, right? :) – ColleenV Mar 23 at 15:34

I'm kind of surprised that The Beverly Hillbillies hasn't been mentioned yet. It comes from an American Sitcom that describes the situation OP asked for almost perfectly. Using it to describe a person or group of people like the OP described is not uncommon.

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But that isn't even a phrase used to describe someone, it is just a comparison. Which means this doesn't really answer the question. – XandarTheZenon Mar 24 at 3:02

While not necessarily denoting financial comfort, you could use the term philistine to describe someone who lacks appreciation of artistic or cultural values:

noun 1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a person who is lacking in or hostile or smugly indifferent to cultural values, intellectual pursuits, aesthetic refinement, etc., or is contentedly commonplace in ideas and tastes.

adjective 3. (sometimes initial capital letter) lacking in or hostile to culture. 4. smugly commonplace or conventional.

Some of the synonyms listed include the already mentioned vulgarian.

From dictionary.com.

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Yuppies are widely regarded as lacking in class. They typically aren't connected to the community and are stereotyped as nerdy and self-centered.

Of course, the word yuppie is a little restricted in meaning, but it might be a useful synonym for whatever word you choose.

Edit: Wow, I don't know how I missed Dark Word Dan's answer below mine...yuppie. I voted his answer up. I guess you can just ignore mine. ;)

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The phrase daddy's girl is often used in this context to describe young ladies that are spoiled and pampered by their rich fathers and thus possess their father's wealth but not any class or manners due to always getting their way.

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