The name of one of the Ernest Hemingway's short stories is "A man of the world". It seems to me that I understand the meaning of this phrase out from the context of the short story. But all the same it seems a little vague to me due to the fact that this seems to be an idiom with its own specific meaning. All the meanings of this idiom which I managed to google don't seem to fit in full for the name of the short story.

Could you help me to grasp the meaning of the idiom in this short story?

Edited (added):

"A Man of the World" Summary (from http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-ernest-hemingway/chapanal059.html )

Blindy is a blind man that wanders among the local bars playing slot machines. He smells very bad and has a difficult time finding someone to give him a ride between bars. His favorite bar is the Pilot, where he gets along well with the bartender. The bartender explains how Blindy became blind. During a fight, his eyes were gouged out and then bitten off by his opponent, Willis Sawyer. Blindy, who refuses to be called by his previous nickname, Blacky, is content with his life and pities Willis Sawyer.....

  • Could you summarize the story? I don't have a copy to hand so I can't work out what about it is confusing you.
    – delete
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 14:10
  • @Shinto Sherlock I've just added the story summary
    – rem
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 15:56
  • 1
    I am very sorry but that doesn't help me a lot since it's not clear who the "man of the world" refers to etc. Anyway since you have accepted an answer, it's OK if you don't want to bother adding more information.
    – delete
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 5:22

4 Answers 4


I use a man of world to mean a person who is experienced in the ways of sophisticated society, which is the same meaning that the Italian un uomo di mondo has (one is the literal translation of the other).


I've heard it used with a slightly negative sense (in the same sense as "wordly") to mean materialistic, shallow or immoral (This is an older meaning, probably originally from the Bible, where "the world" is sometimes used to refer to the evil in the world, in contrast to the goodness of God and spiritual things).

I suspect Hemingway knew this meaning, though the more common meaning these days may also have been popular when he wrote (the more positive "broad work and life experience" or "sophisticated" meaning mentioned by others).

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    ... a man of [this] world (as opposed to the better world in heaven) Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 14:14

We use A man of the world as a way to describe a person with broad work and life experience. They've seen and done many things and have a great deal of worldly experience.


Just a tip for googling phrases like this, you can use a * as a wildcard like this:

* is a man of the world

Which gives you many more examples of texts which talk about particular people who are described as being a "man of the world," instead of getting pages of song titles, etc.

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