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Word of the day: Plutography



Depiction, presentation, or coverage of the rich, particularly the lifestyles they enjoy.


“From ‘Dynasty’ to the ‘Real Housewives’ series to ‘Succession,’ TV viewers are obsessed with watching plutography.”

“I’ll fall asleep to a nature documentary, but I can watch hours of plutography on reality TV.”

“The show ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ was my introduction to plutography.”


American English, 1985


Plutography is a hallmark of classic American literature, as the lives of the rich and upper class are featured in works such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and Henry James’ “The Portrait of a Lady.” However, there wasn’t a specific word for this type of coverage until reporter and author Tom Wolfe coined the word “plutography” to describe the 1980s as an era fascinated with wealth. Wolfe both reported on and penned fiction about the lives of America’s richest people, most notably in his 1987 novel, “The Bonfire of the Vanities.” The word “plutography” is constructed by combining “pluto-” (from the Greek “ploutos,” meaning “wealth”) and the suffix “-graphy,” which indicates “writing about a specific subject.”

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