blue-collar worker

(noun) An individual who engages in manual labor, such as a construction worker or factory worker and is typically an hourly wage earner.

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: blue-collar workers
  • Blue-collar is reference to the durable blue denim shirts historically worn by manual labors.
  • The earliest listing for “blue-collar” in the Oxford English Dictionary is in 1929.
  • Blue-collar is often used in a derogatory sense to indicate lower socioeconomic status to others and conversely indicate pride in ones own status.
  • Blue-collar worker is sociologically problematic because highly skilled manual laborers (e.g. welders, repairmen) make more money, have more autonomy, and require more training than entry level white-collar office workers.
  • Variant form: blue collar worker

Related Terms:


Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.

Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 1997. New York: Random House.

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (


How to Cite the Definition of Blue-collar Worker

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “blue-collar worker.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 27, 2019 (

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

blue-collar worker. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “blue-collar worker.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 27, 2019.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“blue-collar worker.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 27 Jun. 2019. <>.