Word of the day: parvenu

parvenu. (n)
a person of humble origin who has gained wealth, influence, or celebrity.
“the political inexperience of a parvenu”
synonyms: upstart, social climber, arriviste, vulgarian…

A parvenu is a person who is a relative newcomer to a socioeconomic class. The word is borrowed from the French language; it is the past participle of the verb parvenir (to reach, to arrive, to manage to do something). -Wikipedia (https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Parvenu)


The word parvenu typically describes a person who recently ascended the social ladder, especially a nouveau riche or “new money” individual. The famous Margaret Brown, who survived the Titanic sinking in 1912, was portrayed as a “new money” individual in the “climbing social classes” musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown because of 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 expresses a form of classism.

Social climber

A social climber is a derogatory term that denotes someone who seeks social prominence through aggressive, fawning, or obsequious behavior.[1] The term is sometimes used as synonymous with parvenu, and may be used as an insult, suggesting a poor work ethic or disloyalty to roots.


Several examples might include athletic and entertainment professionals born and raised in poverty and suddenly finding themselves with significantly higher income due to their new-found celebrity status.

Established royal families of Europe regarded the Bonaparte family as parvenu royalty. Napoleon III tried to marry into Swedish and German royalty, but was unsuccessful because he was a parvenu. For instance, his plan to marry Anna Pavlovna, one of the sisters of the Emperor Alexander, did not push through because the Empress Mother objected to the union on account of Napoleon’s status as a parvenu.[2] The reason given for the misalliance was difference of religion.[2] This was also said to be the case with the marriage of Egyptian Princess Fawzia to the future Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi[citation needed]. One of the reasons speculated for their divorce is that Fawzia’s family, including King Farouk I, viewed the Pahlavis as parvenus[citation needed]. Though the Muhammad Ali Dynasty of Egypt and Sudan, to which Fawzia belonged, had humble beginnings, it had solidified its status in Egypt and the Arab World since 1805. In contrast, the Pahlavis were a far more recent dynasty, owing their position entirely to the coup d’état of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s father, Reza Khan, in 1921.

Many parvenus in the United States arrived there as poor immigrants, then worked their way up the social ladder. Beginning as laborers, they took advantage of better economic opportunities in the U.S., moving on to become civil servants, “white collar” (business/office) workers and finally members of respectable society. Such an example might be John Jacob Astor, whose family once skinned rabbits for a living.[3] With his brother, he went on to build such icons of New York City as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. His grandson moved to England, where he eventually became the first Viscount Astor.

In the 19th century, the French aristocracy viewed Jewish women who converted to Christianity upon marriage as parvenus.[4] Professor Catherine Nicault of the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne has argued that this exemplified the way in which the French aristocracy was hostile toward Jews.[4]


Vanity Fair‘s Becky Sharp is considered an archetype of the social climber, having flirted her way up the British upper class. The character was not born to affluence or the aristocracy but, on the strength of personal ambition, have climbed the social ladder through opportunism.[5]


  • Friedrich Nietzsche in The Gay Science section 176 on Compassion “les souverains rangent aux parvenus” translated “the sovereign put themselves before the parvenu”.

Film and television

Figma. Sketch>Abstract killer?

Trying out Figma. Excellent tool for creating digital UI. Integrates well with other digital UI apps – you can drag and drop your Sketch files to be converted to Figma working files. Great for collaborating on stuff like design systems. #zop factor: 8/10

Waking up…

sleeve in bath

There’s a word in the Pali language, anatta (there’s a special character over the last ‘a’ that I don’t know how to make on my keyboard*), which describes a central tenet of Buddhist doctrine.  This tenet is the non-existence of the ego, and can best be understood as the belief that your entire existence as a cohesive self is only an illusion.  In other words, that star trek teleporter discontinuity you mention doesn’t just happen when you go to sleep and wake up, in happens in between every single synaptic action potential you ever experience.  Not only are you not the same person as when you went to bed last night, you’re not even the same person as you were when you started reading this. 

-Will Northup (https://www.quora.com/Am-I-the-same-person-when-I-wake-up-in-the-morning)

Sleep cycles & bicycles


I have found inspiration of late. A beautiful young soul has spoken to me, whispered in my ear. Inspired me. To use my time more wisely. To make more of my time. To own my time and not to waste it on things that don’t enrich me.

I am loving my work and I am working on love. Loving myself and loving my fellow man and woman. Love is all. It is the force that drives me and the food that nurtures me. That, and shinrin yoku.


And the dharma. You have given me the inner strength to reach for my goals, the confidence to make concrete career moves, the happiness to celebrate a birthday I wasn’t sure I’d make, and the renewed energy to transform my life. I am essentially debt-free (as I promised myself a year and a half ago when my marriage failed), and I am on the brink of an amazing journey after heartbreak almost destroyed me. A lot of soul-searching and self-immolation followed, but I rise alongside my punk rocker peers like the phoenix out of the cinders of a life I saw turn to ash in front of me.

Love this metta:

May you be peaceful
May you be happy
May you be free of suffering
May you be free of the causes of suffering
May you be free from harm
May you be free from fear
May you be loved.

Working on me. Peace.

Balance of power


Money is not the same as product. Product is consumed and money merely changes hands. It should never be created or destroyed at will. That leads to an imbalance in the metrology of money and the value originally attached to it. And then it fails to have any value at all, just records in a database. The digital economy is bullshit. I’m gonna learn to build stuff with wood and shoot a gun while the sun shines.

Hello again.

image The mere possibility of our lives intertwining, of us being something more than just friends. That is what makes me smile today. And I’ve been smiling since your birthday. Your eyes glittered around me, the mask I gave you only served to make you more beautiful. The thought of your eyes, so full of life and intelligence, lifts my spirit. My heart soars. And sometimes I imagine your body rising under me. All of this since we walked together that day. I loved walking with you, sometimes leading, sometimes not. Mostly side by side.

The almost mythical story of Haas Unica (a font, not a Dutch superhero)


Imagine if, due to some fluke in the development of projection technology, The Empire Strikes Back had only been shown in a couple of movie theaters. Imagine it fading into obscurity and existing for decades as nothing more than a cult film, a historical footnote, an object of fascination among serious movie buffs.

That’s the story of Haas Unica.

If you have eyeballs, you’ve almost certainly seen Helvetica. It’s one of the most widely used typefaces ever created, so popular that it generated a documentary examining its popularity. It’s almost equally certain that you have not seen Haas Unica, the typeface designed to be Helvetica’s sequel of sorts. Introduced in 1980, it was lost to history almost instantly upon its arrival.

A Legendary Redesign of Helvetica, Reborn After 30 Years