Behind Every Great Man - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking to show appreciation for your mom, wife, sister, girlfriend, or another important woman in your life? When someone asks you about your secret to success, you can tell them, "behind every great man is a woman."

Behind Every Great Man Meaning

This idiom is more of a proverb, and its meaning is literal. The phrase may also apply to women on the team who don't get initial credit for the work. The woman in the idiom can refer to many different female roles in western society, from motherhood to partner, to wife, brother, or sister.

Behind Every Great Man Example Usage

Doris drove her son to the library to study for the SATs every day. After he graduated, someone asked him the secret to getting good grades. He said, "Behind every man is a great woman, and I owe it all to my mother for taking me to the library every day.

Someone asked Jim why he is a good father and successful businessman. Jim replied that "behind every great man is a great woman," referencing the support he gets from his wife.

Someone asked Chris how he managed to win an Olympic qualifier. He said, "behind every great man is a great woman, and I owe it all to my coach."

Dave is lying on the couch and asks his wife to bring him a beer as she leaves the room. Kim returns with the beer, and Dave says, "behind every great man is a good woman," as a show of thanks to his wide. Kim then proceeds to beat up Dave with the pillows for being lazy.

Behind Every Great Man Origin

The idiom, or rather, the proverb "behind every great man," has its origin in the 1960s. During this time in the United States, femininity started to take hold on college campuses across the US, leading to the start of the women's rights movement.

As the movement caught media attention, Port Arthur News's newspaper was the first recorded use of the term in a 1946 sports report. The report was an interview with a quarterback where the player described his performance for bringing the team back to victory as "While I'm not a great man, there's a great woman behind me."

That reference states that the player was humble, valuing the support of his wife. The last 75-years saw the phrase become rather common in social circles. We even say it in pop culture songs like Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves by Eurythmics.

However, recent times have seen the woke movement turn around the idiom, stating that it has a misogynistic message to women.

Phrases Similar to Behind Every Great Man

  • I owe it all to you.
  • I have to thank other people for my success.
  • You're only as strong as the people behind you.

Phrases Opposite to Behind Every Great Man

  • Behind every loser is another loser.
  • You have no one supporting you.
  • No one cares about your opinion.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Behind every great man.
  • Behind every great person.
  • Behind every great.

Ways People May Say Behind Every Great Man Incorrectly

Since the phrase is somewhat misogynistic, some people in public audiences may have a problem with you using this idiom. Taking to a stage for a speech and using the phrase to compliment your wife or boss might seem like your diminishing someone's value due to their gender.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Behind Every Great Man

You can use the phrase in situations where you're among friends and family. If you're at home and your wife congratulates you on a new promotion at work, you could use it to pay her a compliment.

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