1

The "Royal We" or nosism refers to the usage of "we" to mean "I", ("We are not amused", meaning "I am not amused"), or "you", ("We need to mop that floor", which may mean "you must mop the floor").

Is there some name or phrase for the usage of "I" to mean "we"? For example, speaking of the Keystone XL pipeline extension, Donald Trump said:

I want it built, but I want a piece of the profits.

...which inspired a question on SE Skeptics about whether this was an expression of personal greed or nationalist identification; (answer: the latter).

  • 4
    It's a type of synecdoche (if actually true). "l'état, c'est moi." See the Hyperhistory article. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 4 '18 at 19:36
  • 2
    Only slightly off the topic, Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister, reacting to the complicated mess the early National Curriculum said: “When I introduced the National Curriculum, WE never imagined that THEY would make it so complicated. A revealing shift of pronoun! – Tuffy Mar 4 '18 at 20:58
  • 3
    “Answer: the latter” — doubtful. And not what the Skeptics question was about. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 5 '18 at 7:57
  • 1
    WRT the question title, what you meant to write was complement, not compliment. Regardless, analogue/counterpart is a better choice here. – Tushar Raj Mar 5 '18 at 13:05
  • @TusharRaj, Thanks, I hadn't known there were separate spellings. Complement in the sense of "To supply a lack; to supplement." seems preferable, as it better connotes the possibility there may be no such term. – agc Mar 5 '18 at 18:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.