I came across a word plutocracy

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English :

(a) [U] government by a rich and powerful class

(b) [C] state governed in this way

I am looking for its opposite word.

I do not think communism or democracy, which have the following definitions, are good.


social and economic system in which there is no private ownership and the means of production belong to all members of society


system of government by the whole people of a country, esp through representatives whom they elect

Is there any word or phrase which is defined as: government by a poor class ?

2 Answers 2


You're looking for ptochocracy, which is a rare (and often derogatory) word with the following definition:

A government elected by or consisting of the poor; (in extended use) poor people considered as a class.
Oxford Dictionaries

  • 8
    How is it pronounced ? (Without spitting, I mean.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 2:20
  • 4
    @NigelJ Several ways apparently. Brit: /təʊˈkɒkrəsi/, /tɒˈkɒkrəsi/, /ptəʊˈkɒkrəsi/, /ptɒˈkɒkrəsi/; U.S: /toʊˈkɑkrəsi/, /tɑˈkɑkrəsi/, /ptoʊˈkɑkrəsi/, /ptɑˈkɑkrəsi/. I got these from the OED, which also has audio clips of each.
    – Laurel
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 2:23
  • 6
    Thank you. I am just itching to use it, as soon as possible.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 2:36
  • 2
    It comes from the ancient Greek word ‘ptochos’ (πτωχος a beggar). In modern Greek, ‘ftochos’ (φτωχός) means ‘poor’. There have been and even arguably are ptochocracies. In Tibet, before the Chinese annexed it in the last century, monastic communities were made up of monks without personal possessions, living by begging. But they exercised power of their surrounding communities. Much the same could be said of Mount Athos in Greece today or of the Benedictine communities in the middle ages. But I have not come across the word being applied in this way.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 23:47
  • 1
    A fictional example of this type of government would be the original Havenite government in the Honorverse. The vast majority of the voting population's only income was the Basic Living Stipend.
    – Bobson
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 17:43

You might consider finding a way to use the term distributism, which describes an economic system or situation (not a government) in which property is widespread... so everybody's a small-scale property owner instead of a few people being big owners (as in plutocracy) or no one having property (as in communism). In contrast to "ptochocracy", distributism has a small but real following, and some famous supporters such as Chesterton.

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