A "Parvenu" is a person that is a relative newcomer to a socioeconomic class. The word derives from the French language; it is the past participle of the verb "parvenir" (to reach, to arrive, to manage to do something).


The word “"parvenu"” typically describes a person who recently ascended the social ladder, especially a "nouveau riche" or “new money” individual. The famous Molly Brown, who survived the "Titanic" sinking in 1912, was considered a “new money” individual due to her impoverished, Irish immigrant roots and lack of social pedigree.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a "parvenu" as: "A person from a humble background who has rapidly gained wealth or an influential social position; a nouveau riche; an upstart, a social climber. Also in extended use. (Generally used with the implication that the person concerned is unsuited to the new social position, esp. through lacking the necessary manners or accomplishments.)"

The term designates individuals not socially accepted by individuals already established in their new class. It is a form of classism.


See also the short story called Parvenue by Mary Shelley.

Several examples might include athletic and entertainment professionals born and raised in poverty and suddenly finding themselves with significantly higher sources of income due to their new-found celebrity status. The established old money factions of society often choose to exclude these individuals from their ranks, with the argument that such people are tasteless in their spending and use their wealth to flaunt their economic standing rather than practice philanthropy, maintain discretion, and otherwise acquiesce to the accepted behavior of the social class.

The Bonaparte family were considered "parvenu" royalty by other royal families of Europe. Napoleon III tried to marry into Swedish and German royalty, but was unsuccessful due to his status as "parvenu". Other examples may have worked their way up the ladder, originally poor immigrants to the United States. Originally immigrant workers, they would have found themselves able to take advantage of the growing opportunities in the U.S., moving on to become civil servants, “white collar” (business/office) workers and finally to the “gentry”. Such an example might be John Jacob Astor, whose family once skinned rabbits for a livingFact|date=June 2007 and went on to build such icons of New York City as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel with his brother. Many believe this phenomenon is not as common in Europe due to the centuries old, well-established social hierarchy of European countries, nor is it as common in present-day U.S. due to largely the same reasons.


*In the novel, "The Great Gatsby", Gatsby represents the newly rich, through his illicit activities including selling bootleg liqueur, and his decadent parties.
*In The Cherry Orchard, Gayev regards Lophakhin as a "parvenu", as many critics interpret his remarks.
*Pip from Dickens’ Great Expectations would be considered a "parvenu" by many.


*In the film, "Downfall", Hitler refers to Hermann Göring as “ein "Parvenu"!”
*In Miss Potter, Beatrix Potter refers to her parents as " climbers," after they attempt to prevent her from marrying her publisher Norman Warne, since he is a tradesman.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • parvenu — parvenu, ue [ parvəny ] adj. et n. • 1690; de parvenir ♦ Qui a atteint rapidement une importante situation sociale, sans en acquérir les manières, le ton, le savoir vivre. « Le paysan parvenu », roman de Marivaux. « Les épaves de la noblesse sont …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • parvenu — parvenu, ue (par ve nu, nue) part. passé de parvenir. 1°   Parvenu au haut de la colline. Parvenu au faîte des honneurs. •   Déjà jusqu à mon coeur le venin parvenu Dans ce coeur expirant jette un froid inconnu, RAC. Phèdre, V, 7. 2°   Il se dit… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Parvenü — Sm Aufsteiger, Neureicher erw. obs. (18. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus frz. parvenu(e), einer Substantivierung von frz. parvenir hinkommen, gelangen , aus l. pervenīre, zu l. venīre kommen und l. per , also eigentlich der Hinzugekommene .… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • parvenu — [pär′və no͞o΄, pär′vənyo͞o΄] n. [Fr, pp. of parvenir < L pervenire, to arrive < per, through (see PER1) + venire, COME] a person who has suddenly acquired wealth or power, esp. one who is not fully accepted socially by the class associated… …   English World dictionary

  • parvenu — (n.) upstart, 1802, from Fr. parvenu, said of an obscure person who has made a great fortune, noun use of pp. of parvenir to arrive, from L. pervenire, from per through + venire to come (see VENUE (Cf. venue)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Parvenu — Par ve*nu , n. [F., prop. p. p. of parvenir to attain to, to succeed, to rise to high station, L. pervenire to come to; per through + venire to come. See {Par}, prep., and {Come}.] An upstart; a man newly risen into notice. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • parvenu — фр. (парвэню) см. парвеню. Толковый словарь иностранных слов Л. П. Крысина. М: Русский язык, 1998 …   Словарь иностранных слов русского языка

  • Parvenu — (fr., spr. Parwenüh), Emporkömmling …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Parvenu — (franz., spr. parw nǖ), Emporkömmling …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Parvenu — (frz., spr. parwĕnüh), Emporkömmling …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Parvenu — (französ.), ein Emporkömmling, Glückspilz …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

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