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1. a large amount of money and valuable material possessions
2. the state of being rich
3. Economics all goods and services with monetary, exchangeable, or productive value


the value of the resources possessed by an individual or a society (compare CAPITAL).

An important issue in any society is the distribution of wealth within it. Usually, in all but the simplest of societies, the ownership of wealth is unequal, and the degree to which this is so is an important differentiating feature of types of society. In the modern world advanced industrial societies generally manifest less inequality of income than less developed societies, but inequalities in the distribution of wealth remain great, although these are often difficult to quantify, given the tendency of wealth to go often unreported – e.g. at the time of death -because it is subject to taxation.

The massive inequality in wealth which exists between societies – especially between FIRST and THIRD WORLD societies – is, of course, also a major feature distinguishing between nation states in the modern WORLD SYSTEM, and a major aspect of the potential economic and political instability of this system.


See also Luxury, Treasure.
Weaving (See SEWING and WEAVING.)
Abu Dhabi
Persian Gulf sheikdom overflowing with petrodollars. [Mid-East Hist.: NCE, 9]
Big Daddy
wealthy Mississippi landowner of humble origins. [Am. Lit.: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof]
black and gold
symbol of financial prosperity. [Heraldry: Jobes, 222]
traditional symbol of wealth. [Plant Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 167]
Cave of Mammon
abode of god of riches. [Br. Lit.: Faerie Queene]
ancient Greek city; one of wealthiest and most powerful. [Gk. Hist. and Myth.: Zimmerman, 69]
Lydian king; name became synonymous with riches. [Gk. Myth.: Kravitz, 69]
rich man who ignored poor man’s plight; sent to Hell. [N.T.: Luke 16:19–31]
world’s richest man in classical times. [Gk. Myth.: Kravitz, 91]
Fortunatus’ purse
luckless man receives gift of inexhaustible purse. [Ital. Fairy Tale: LLEI, I: 286]
16th-century German financiers. [Ger. Hist.: NCE, 1023–1024]
Hughes, Howard
(1905–1976) eccentric millionaire; lived as recluse. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1284]
Phrygian king; whatever he touched became gold. [Gk. and Rom. Myth.: Wheeler, 24]
god of wealth: blind (indiscriminate); lame (slow to accumulate); and winged (quick to disappear). [Gk. Lit.: Plutus]
Rockefeller, John D(avison)
(1839–1937) oil magnate; name has become synonymous with “rich.” [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 431]
fabulous riches garnered from gifts and tolls. [O.T.: I Kings 10:14–25]
rich Athenian; ruined by his prodigal generosity to friends. [Br. Lit.: Timon of Athens]
seeing turquoise after a new moon brings wealth. [Gem Symbolism: Kunz, 345]
Warbucks, Daddy
adventurous soldier of fortune and richest man in world. [Comics: “Little Orphan Annie” in Horn, 459]
wheat stalk
traditional symbol of wealth. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 178]
References in periodicals archive ?
The third section discusses the meaning and measurement of rich, middle class, poor, and affluence in modern economies and how it relates to the biblical teachings of section 2.
1) Later authors also concluded that affluence did not bring happiness.
The critical two-way ANOVA interactions of purchase purpose and affluence were carried out for the camera, the MP3 player, and the watch.
One of the more interesting chapters in the books deals with historian David Potter, author of People of Plenty, whose privileged traditional Southern background provided him with an apprehensive view of the disorderly world created by growing affluence.
The purpose of the current research is to learn how an observer's perception of helping behavior is influenced by the helper's affluence level.
In these hard days of affluence, what sort of present do you obtain for the recipient who has everything?
The explosive growth and increasing affluence in the area convinced Malone and his partners that the time had arrived for a local Mercedes- Benz dealership.
Mass Affluence lays out seven new rules of mass marketing specifically directed for use with the increasingly affluent populace and shows how innovative companies are implementing these novel strategies with high-end products that fill a heretofore ignored middle-ground in ordinary product categories ranging from clothing, to oral care, to house hold cleaning, and more.
Steve Bhaerman, known by his popular alias of Swami Beyondananda, "uncommontator and political guru", encourages ordinary citizens to wake up and take back government of, by, and for the people--with a chuckle inducing affluence of puns, black-and-white cartoons, and wry insights to drive the point home.
In a culture of consumption and affluence like that of the United States, Simon reminds us that there is an alternative: the way of gratitude and generosity.
The New Consumers: The Influence of Affluence on the Environment Norman Myers, Jennifer Kent
Gregg Easterbrook, a senior editor of the New Republic and a contributing editor of the Atlantic Monthly, examines this striking incongruity between our affluence and our discontent.