No Man Is An Island: What Does this Useful Idiom Mean?

Have you ever heard someone use the term ‘no man is an island’ during a conversation in English? If you have, you may have questioned what this term means. We are going to look at the meaning of this phrase and how we can use it in our daily conversations. We are also going to look at the history of this term and where it originally came from.

No Man Is An Island

No Man Is An Island Meaning

When someone uses the term ‘no man is an island’ they are saying that nobody is completely unreliant on somebody else and that nobody is totally self sufficient.

Origin of this idiom

The idiom ‘no man is an island’ originally comes from the 17th century in a sermon given by a man called John Donne.

“No Man Is An Island” Examples

Examples in Statements

This is a statement made by a ships captain.

  • ‘I get all the glory for the running of this ship, but no man is an island, I rely heavily on my crew to keep things running smoothly.’

Here is a statement which is being made by a journalist in a news report.

  • ‘The community is very strong here, they support one another and help each other out, after all no man is an island.’

Conversation Examples

The term ‘no man is an island’ may be heard in many different conversations. Here are some example of times you might hear it.

The first conversation is between two friends.

  • Person 1: “I have decided that I am going to live off the grid, in the forest.”
  • Person 2: “That’s madness, you can’t do that. You will not survive purely on your own.”
  • Person 1: “Of course I will. What could I possibly need help with?”
  • Person 2: “I don’t know yet but no man is an island.”

This conversation is taking place between a teacher and a student.

  • Person 1: “When I leave school I am going to start my own business.”
  • Person 2: “That’s wonderful but how are you going to do it by yourself”?
  • Person 1: “I don’t need anyone else, I can do it alone.”
  • Person 2:No man is an island, you will need support at some stage or another.”

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

There are other ways in which you might express the meaning of the term ‘no man is an island.’

Here are some examples of other things you can say which mean the same.

  • Safety in numbers
  • You need the support of others

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