Elitist Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Understanding the world means understanding who elitists are and what they do. This is everything you need to know about the meaning of elistist!

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Even in a world where equality is becoming more common, people will always create hierarchies. While the morality of that idea has been widely contested, it’s an essential part of human society. There always has been a group of people who either view themselves as higher or are viewed by other people as higher. This defined group of influential people tends to be known as elites

To describe this elevated subsection of people, the English Language uses elitist. It’s a word that is commonly used today to tell people who have decided to or been forced to fit into a category outside of the general population. Due to the weight behind the definition, there are many mixed feelings about who this word is about and how this word should be used. 

Knowing how to use words effectively and appropriately is one of the best ways to advance in society and live as a social climber. This is what elitist means, where the word comes from, and how to use it properly in the modern world. 

What Does Elitist Mean? 

The noun elitist (ɪˈliːtɪst) is a person who believes that societies or systems at large should be led by either a single elite person or a group of elites. When used as an adjective, the term refers to something that supports or encourages the idea that an aristocracy. 

While this used to be a standard view of the world, things that carry elitist ideas and actions have acquired negative connotations. Most people are no longer interested in being politically or socially led by someone who deems themselves better or higher than “average” people. 

Most people reject being ruled or directed by an elitist snob who demands special treatment and recognition. Most of the western world is progressively becoming less elitist and more biased towards people who view themselves on the same level as anyone else. 

However, this view of elites is not universal across the world. In fact, many societies tend to gravitate towards elitist worldviews due to their culture, society, and heritage. While the word itself is relatively new, the concept is actually many millennia old. Many government and societal systems have built themselves up around the idea of following people who they elevate because they believe they can trust them. 

If you were to look in a thesaurus for word lists of synonyms for elitist, here are some that you would likely find: 

  • Upper-class
  • Stuck-up
  • Snobbish
  • Snooty
  • Individualistic
  • Prig
  • Elect
  • Aristocrat
  • Gentry
  • A-list
  • Nobility

What Is the Etymology of the Word Elitist? 

When it comes to the origin of the word elitist, one has to look at both the history of language and how words are formed in English Grammar. 

The primary origin of the word elitist is in the Latin eligere, which refers to selecting significant leaders. In ancient Rome — where Latin was the primary language — electing leaders was a large part of the government system. 

From this, the word was transposed into many other romance languages. Some of the most common are French in the form élire, which means “to elect,” and the Brazilian Portuguese and Catalan elitista, which has the same meaning. 

As time went on, these words were combined with the already existing English word elect to create the new word form of elitist around the mid 18th century. 

How to Use the Word Elitist in the Modern World

Generally, elitist has negative connotations in most of the Western world. When there is someone who seems a little too self-important regarding their position in a society or culture, they will often be referred to as elitist. This is because they see themselves as an elite amongst the rest of their peers, which is innately negative. 

Elitist is also seen among people with specific niche interests. For example, a person who likes a particular kind of underground or complex music may think they are better or more “elite” because their music taste is rare. While this may or may not be true, it still places them in line with music elitists. Similarly, this mindset can be transposed to various interests, passions, and hobbies. 

Most people who view themselves as elites within their field of passion are also seen as “gatekeepers” because they tend to reject those they deem “uninitiated.” Even when someone is a passionate learner of a particular subject, they will often be left by the more elitist people. This is a common area where elitist ideals are despised and rejected by the general population. 

Example Sentences Using the Word Elitist

One of the best ways to learn how to use a word is by seeing it in use in real-world situations and sentences. Here are some examples of the word elite being used in ways that you’ll likely find in the world today! 

The elitist group of students refused to accept anyone who didn’t speak Arabic, Greek, and Latin. 

Even though they were all supposed to take the quiz, the elitist students left their papers completely blank in rebellion. 

The elitist hackers kept changing the Wikipedia page to say things that fell in line with their own version of the events. 


If you want to learn more about how to use words in the modern world, our blog here at The Word Counter is just for you! 

While dictionaries and encyclopedias may offer a little bit of information, we seek to provide the whole story behind how you can use words to your advantage in the world today. Effective communication is one of the most powerful tools you can use to advance in the world today, and The Word Counter is here to help you with all of your questions. 

To truly expand your mind, check out our latest blog articles today! 


  1. Elitist Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com
  2. Elitist Definition & Meaning | Britannica Dictionary
  3. Elitist – Definition, Meaning & Synonyms | Vocabulary.com