Exactly. It was first coined by a French demographer/economist, Afred Sauvey, in a 1953 article in which he defined the Third World countries as those with very high birth rates (essentially Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Asia). "Third World" was a reference to the "Third Estate" of pre-revolutionary France -- i.e. long-oppressed masses who were on the verge of revolution.swampash wrote:Yes, like a lot of things it's been misappropriated. But it wasn't originally meant to be a pejorative term.Sid wrote:But third world also includes countries with a colonial past from africa, asia, latin america. And now it is entirely used in that context.
The term was subsequently picked up and popularised by political elites in the developing/postcolonial world, with that same positive revolutionary connotation in mind. Their goal was to create a new, better kind of society than those seen in the industrialised Northern Hemisphere, which had given rise to imperialism, two world wars, and the nuclear arms race.
So the original meaning is more like "society version 3.0" than "third rate".