Word Confusion: Every Man versus Everyman

Posted August 28, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources

Ya’ll can breathe easy. This is my own curiosity, *laughing*. It’s that concept of the everyman that fascinates me, for its origin as a blank slate representing the common man, as in the fifteenth century play. Just goes to show that creating characters when writing plays or stories has been a creative art for centuries.

Curious About Other Everys?

If you’re curious about other every closed compound words, you may want to check out “Every Body versus Everybody“, “Every Day versus Everyday“, “Every One versus Everyone“, “Every Place versus Everyplace“, “Every Thing versus Everything“, and “Every Way versus Everyway“.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Every Man Everyman
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: everyman

A shiny brass plaque saying England Expects That Every Man Will Do His Duty

“England Expects Plaque” by JW1805 has been released into the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Every man was expected to join the army, lest he be thought a coward.


A woodcut of the 15th century Everyman

“Everyman Cut-Out” by Anonymous is the frontispiece to Everyman and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Adverbial Phrase consisting of a Determiner + Noun Closed Compound Word


Noun
Plural for noun: everyman
Each individual of a group, without exception Noun:
[Use italics] A 15th-century English morality play in which the central figure represents mankind, whose earthly destiny is dramatized from the Christian viewpoint

[Usually lowercase] An ordinary person

  • The typical or average person
  • The common man
Examples:
It’s every man for himself!

Yeah, well, every man has his price, and you just met mine.

They’re spies, every man jack of them.

It is everyman’s dream car.

“You have to be an Everyman and chameleon, so that every bit of you is involved in the end.” – Ronald K. Fried, “Martin Amis Talks About Nazis, Novels, and Cute Babies“, The Daily Beast, 8 Oct 2014

The Somonyng of Everyman, usually referred to as Everyman, was first performed in 1510 and is a translation of a Dutch play, Elckerlijc.

As a trope, the everyman character is usually a blank slate with whom the reader is intended to empathize.

History of the Word:
Early 20th century: the name of the principal character in a 15th-century morality play.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Segurança RS – chamem o Batman by ABC Television, Christopher T. Howlett – editor Eugenio Hansen, OFS, is under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.


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