Proletariat is an old term for the working class. It was commonly used by Marxists and other people who believed that capitalism had created a class of workers who were exploited by company owners. They called those owners "the bourgeoisie."

When you use the word proletariat now, your audience might assume that you've arrived in a time machine from the 19th century and you're still angry about the exploitation of workers. So you probably would use the term self-consciously or humorously, as in “The boss just sent around a memo saying no one’s allowed to leave until we’ve finished compiling the report. I guess the proletariat had better forget about making it home in time to watch the kick-off.”

Definitions of proletariat
  1. noun
    a social class comprising those who do manual labor or work for wages
    synonyms: labor, labour, working class
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    labor force, labor pool
    the source of trained people from which workers can be hired
    (Marxism) the unorganized lower levels of the proletariat who are not interested in revolutionary advancement
    organized labor
    employees who are represented by a labor union
    type of:
    class, social class, socio-economic class, stratum
    people having the same social, economic, or educational status
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