Header image of books


A word, obviously coined as the antonym of underclass, which sprang into prominence in the US in 1995 but which has only just reached Britain, and in which it is unlikely to become common because of differing social structures. The overclass, it is argued, comprises a small homogeneous elite group of individuals who run American institutions, who form what Michael Lind, in Harper’s Magazine, called a “guild oligarchy”, separate from and superior to the traditional middle classes. One of the defining characteristics of members of the overclass is their tendency towards isolation, using their resources to exclude themselves voluntarily from society, as the antithesis of the underclass, which is excluded by its poverty.

Search World Wide Words

Support this website!

Donate via PayPal. Select your currency from the list and click Donate.

Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 21 Sep. 1996

Advice on copyright

The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-ove1.htm
Last modified: 21 September 1996.