(Latin: common people, multitude, common)

This may be one of the most contradictory words around because the term "common people" has a considerably different application in these modern times than it did in Roman times and down through the centuries of upper-class and royal societies.

For a long time, "common people" were crude, coarse, uneducated, etc.; while those who were in the "upper classes" were polite, educated (sometimes), and superior to the "riff-raff or disreputable, common, or undesirable people".

Profanum vulgus.
The common people.

Literally, "the profane multitude" or "morally corrupt by intemperance or sensuality".

the vulgate
Substandard speech.
vulgar (adjective), more vulgar, most vulgar
1. Relating to something that is crude or obscene; such as, vulgar language or behavior.
2. Conveying a lack of taste or reasonable moderation; indecent; obscene; lewd.
3. Descriptive of someone who is lacking in courtesy and manners; crude; coarse; unrefined.
4. Pertaining to a form of a language spoken generally by people.
5. Characteristic of being without distinction, aesthetic value, or charm; banal; ordinary.
6. Etymology: "common, ordinary", from Latin vulgaris, "of or pertaining to the common people, common" from vulgus, "the common people, multitude, crowd, throng" as opposed to those "who were considered educated, well behaved, had control over their language and conduct, and who had higher levels of good manners and politeness when dealing with other people".
Vulgar Latin (s) (noun)
1. The common speech of the ancient Romans, which is distinguished from standard literary Latin and is the ancestor of the Romance languages.
2. The form of Latin that was the commonly spoken language of the western Roman Empire.

Written materials in Latin almost always make use of Classical Latin forms; hence, written documentation of Vulgar Latin is uncommon.

Modern knowledge of the language is based on statements of Roman grammarians concerning "improper" usages, and on a certain number of inscriptions and early manuscripts, "lapses" in the writings of educated authors, some lists of "incorrect" forms and glossaries of Classical forms, and occasional texts written by or for people of little education.

Romance languages consists of groups of related languages derived from Latin, with nearly 920 million native speakers. The major Romance languages are French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian are national languages. French is probably the most internationally significant, but Spanish, the official language of nineteen American countries and Spain and Equatorial Guinea, has the most speakers.

Among the more important Romance languages are Catalan, French, Italian, Portuguese, Occitan, Rhaeto-Romanic, Romanian, and Spanish.

The spread of some Romance languages to other parts of the world, especially the Western Hemisphere, included the colonizing and empire-building of the mother countries of these languages, notably Spain, Portugal, and France.

All of the Romance languages are descended from Latin and they are called "Romance languages" because their parent tongue, Latin, was the language of the Romans: however, the variety of Latin that was their common ancestor was not classical Latin but the spoken or popular language of everyday usage, which is believed to have differed greatly from classical Latin by the time of the Roman Empire.

This vernacular, known as Vulgar Latin, was spread by soldiers and colonists throughout the Roman Empire. It superseded the native tongues of certain conquered European people, although it was also influenced by their local speech practices and by the linguistic characteristics of colonists and later of invaders.

Later, European colonial and commercial contacts spread them to the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

—Compiled primarily from information located at

Encyclopædia Britannica Online, "Vulgar Latin"; April 25, 2010.
Encyclopædia Britannica Online, "Romance languages"; April 25, 2010.
vulgarian (s) (noun), vulgarians (pl)
1. Anyone who is rude, uncouth, distasteful, and obscene.
2. Someone who is wealthy but lacks taste or a sense of reasonable moderation; especially, anyone whose vulgarity is the more conspicuous because of wealth, prominence, or pretensions to good breeding.
vulgarism (s) (noun), vulgarisms (pl)
1. An offensive or indecent word or phrase.
2. A word or phrase from a language spoken primarily by uneducated people, as contrasted with a more formal or refined usage by educated people.
vulgarity (s) (noun), vulgarities (pl)
1. The quality of lacking taste and refinement.
2. A reference to someone making crude or tasteless jokes, remarks, or acts.
3. A word or phrase used only in common colloquial, and especially, in coarse, speech.
4. Something; such as, an act or expression, that offends good taste or propriety: "The vulgarity of his loud talk and crude jokes caused some participants in the audience to walk out in disgust."

Is Vulgarity Becoming an Acceptable Way of Talking and Writing?

Vulgar or disgusting talk is becoming more and more acceptable on radio, TV, movies, and in print!

  • U.S. Sen. Carl Levin repeatedly quotes the phrase "sh--ty deal" from a Goldman Sachs memo.
  • Rapper Kanye West titles his new album "Good Ass Job." And "son of a bitch" has become a catchphrase on television's popular "Lost."
  • From Hollywood to Washington, profanity is peppering the lexicon, even in polite company.
  • Not so long ago people couldn't utter the words on TV or print them in newspapers. Today, off-color language has become commonplace, celebrated, even commercialized.
  • Some wordsmiths warn that we are headed toward a future where nothing is "bleep-worthy". They worry that changing how we speak may also change who we are.

  • —Excerpts from
    "Are we becoming a nation of potty-mouths?" by Karen D'Souza;
    [email protected]; posted: May 1, 2010.
vulgarization (s) (noun), vulgarizations (pl)
1. The act of making something attractive to the general public.
2. The process of rendering something coarse and unrefined.
vulgarize (verb), vulgarizes; vulgarized; vulgarizing
1. To debase by making something less refined and coarse, or lower in quality: Such awful language and behavior vulgarizes our way of living and shouldn't be allowed.
2. To present something in a way that makes it more accessible to ordinary people: The coffee shop catered to the taste of all of its customers and vulgaried the various kinds of coffee from a cup of normal coffee to caramel, hazelnut, and vanilla flavors at a very reasonable price.
3. To translate a written work from a classical language into the vernacular or ordinary speech rather than formal writing: The works of Shakespeare were vulgarized for the students into the present day vernacular.
vulgarness (s) (noun) (usually no plural)
1. Showing a lack of good breeding, manners, taste, etc.; not refined; coarse; low.
2. In common use; common; ordinary.
vulgarobufotoxin, bufotoxin
The principal toxin of the venom of the common European toad, Bufo vulgaris.
1. The Latin edition or translation of the Bible made by Saint Jerome at the end of the fourth century A.D., now used in a revised form as the Roman Catholic authorized version.
2. From the Latin editio vulgata: "common version", or the Latin Bible used by the Roman Catholic Church, primarily translated by St. Jerome.

In A.D.382, Pope Damasus commissioned Jerome, the leading biblical scholar of his day, to produce an acceptable Latin version of the Bible from the various translations then being used.

His revised Latin translation of the Gospels appeared about A.D. 383. Using the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament, he produced new Latin translations of the Psalms (the so-called Gallican Psalter), the Book of Job, and some other books.

Later, he decided that the Septuagint was unsatisfactory and started translating the entire Old Testament from the original Hebrew versions, a process that he completed in about A.D. 405.

Jerome’s translation was not immediately accepted, but from the mid-6th century, a complete Bible with all the separate books bound in a single cover was commonly used.

It usually contained Jerome’s Old Testament translation from the Hebrew, except for the Psalms; his Gallican Psalter; his translation of the books of Tobias (Tobit) and Judith (apocryphal in the Jewish and Protestant canons); and his revision of the Gospels.

The remainder of the New Testament was taken from older Latin versions, which may have been slightly revised by Jerome. Some of the other books found in the Septuagint; such as, the Apocrypha for Protestants and Jews; and the deuterocanonical books for Roman Catholics, were included from older versions.

—Compiled primarily from information located at
Encyclopædia Britannica Online, "Vulgate"; April 25, 2010.
vulgus ignobile
The low-born rabble.