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Illeism

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Illeism

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Illeism is referring to oneself in the third person.

Example

We are grateful for your gifts, good sir.

I am the king. He is displeased.

Discussion

Referring to yourself in the third person detaches yourself from that person. This can make the speaker seem objective. It can also be used to highlight an exalted position position, letting the speaker put themselves on a pedestal (and figuratively stand below the pedestal in worship of him- or herself).

In this way, Illeism is sometimes talked about in common parlance as 'the royal we' as kings and queens use this. Queen Victoria famously said 'We are not amused.' This also makes illeism a prerogative of royalty and usage by common people may thus be seen as bad form (Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was known to use it upon occasion). Mark Twain said "Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we'."

Classification: Reference

See also

Authority principle

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