Chattering classes

The chattering classes is a generally derogatory[1] term, coined by English journalist Auberon Waugh,[2] often used by pundits and political commentators to refer to a politically active, socially concerned and highly educated section of the "metropolitan middle class",[1] especially those with political, media, and academic connections.

United Kingdom

It is sometimes used to refer to a liberal elite, but its first use by British right wing polemicist Frank Johnson in 1980 appeared to include a wider range of pundits.[1] Indeed, the term is used by people all across the political spectrum to refer to the journalists and political operatives who see themselves as the arbiters of conventional wisdom.[3] As such, the notion of "chattering classes" can be seen as an antonym to the older idea of an unrepresented silent majority, made notable by the U.S. Republican Party President Richard Nixon.

United States

In the United States, the term has come to be used by both the right and left to describe political opponents, with Stephen Perrault of the Merriam-Webster dictionary suggesting that the term has "connotations of idleness, of useless talk, that the noun 'chatter' does. ... These people don't amount to much — they like to hear themselves talk."[4]


  1. Chattering Classes, 2006 Oxford English Dictionary
  2. P.McGuinness chattering classes, coined by Auberon Waugh, 2004 The Sydney Morning Herald
  3. See, for example, Walter Gretzky's honour, The Globe and Mail, December 29, 2007, p. A20
  4. Kornblut, Anne E. The Peculiar Power of the Chattering Class, The New York Times. April 2, 2006. Retrieved 2008-06-28.

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