What does the phrase in bold mean? This is given in the book "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens. The sentence:

He was quite bald. His clothes were shabby but he had an air of great importance. His name was Mr Micawber.

  • The following is the original, unedited, version literaturepage.com/read/davidcopperfield-184.html “…with no more hair upon his head (which was a large one, and very shining) than there is upon an egg, and with a very extensive face, which he turned full upon me. His clothes were shabby, but he had an imposing shirt-collar on.”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 25, 2019 at 8:54

2 Answers 2


It means that other people perceive him as important. He gives that impression, despite his clothes.


Having 'an air of great importance' indicates that he is acting haughty and superior; pretending to be better than he actually is.

"Once he started making money, he took on an air of great importance and became unbearable to his friends."

  • Your example sentence is quite different. I don't see anything in the OP's sentence to indicate that the air is caused by acting in a superior way. I think you're reading too much into it, perhaps from knowing more about this particular character. Consider similar expressions like an "air or mystery" or an "air of confidence". These could certainly be associated with negative personality traits, but those words tell you only about the impression that others get, not the cause of that impression. Feb 25, 2019 at 11:08

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