Writing for Business

Feb 5 2013   5:28PM GMT

What does “illeism” mean?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
If you are prone to illeism, what do you have a tendency to do?
a. Intentionally disobey grammar rules
b. Speak of yourself in the third person
c. Supply vague answers to questions

Answer: b

Illeism is speaking of yourself in the third person, as not yourself, not someone you’re speaking to, but like some third person that you’re talking about. If I were to say “Ivy Wigmore never wears orange shoes with a purple handbag,” that would be an example of illeism.

Of course, I’d never say that. 1. I try to avoid sounding like a pompous arse, and 2. Well, you just never know what crazy color combo Ivy Wigmore might be in the mood for.

Previously on this blog, I wrote about illeism in Twitter profiles.

Mental Floss lists Famous Illeists. First on the list, Bob Dole. Second, Bo Jackson. Republicans and sports figures, eh.


Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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