He Who Makes a Beast of Himself… – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you focusing too hard on a goal to the detriment of your life experience? Well, you know what they say, “He who makes a beast of himself…”

This post unpacks the origin and meaning of this idiomatic phrase.

He Who Makes a Beast of Himself… Meaning

He who makes a beast of himself… is a quote referring to what it means to be human and how a person can turn their back on humanity and society in pursuit of a goal. The phrase looks at the fact that we all have the capacity for a wide range of emotions in our experience. However, having feelings also comes at a price.

While some people may enjoy the beauty of life and their experience, others may fail to take heed to their experience, choosing to approach life systematically, devoid of emotion and thought. The phrase has a positive and negative connotations.

The beast could refer to the person’s attitude positively, or it could refer to self-destructive practices resulting in the person losing their grip on their place in society. Some people may argue that you need to be a “beast” to get what you want in life, at the expense of others, without caring about the effects of the outcome on other people.

Example Usage

“Did you see Mark’s transformation through working out and eating clean? Sure, he looks good, but he who makes a beast of himself… Won’t ever get to experience life.”

“Man, Jim is studying hard to pass the bar; I’m worried because he never goes out anymore, you know what they say, he who makes a beast of himself…”

“Tom does nothing but spend his time at the gym trying to get bigger. The guy won’t go out to eat with us. I’m concerned he will not get the most out of his youth while chasing his bodybuilding goals. You know what they say, he who makes a beast of himself…”

Origin

He who makes a beast of himself…” is an idiom originating from the author, Dr. Samuel Johnson, a famous writer. Dr. Johnson was an accomplished playwright, biographer, poet, author, essayist, and lexicographer.

While Dr. Johnson is the first to coin the phrase in English, he was not the first to write it in literature. The original use of the phrase in writing comes from a record of conversations written by Percival Stockdale. The term appears in “Anecdotes of the Revd. Percival Stockdale“.

Dr. Johnson worded the phrase to Stockdale, who captured the saying in his notes, writing it into his book. The topic of discussion involved Dr. Johnson talking about his interaction with a woman. The woman was complaining about how her man acted like an animal.

To this, Dr. Johnson replied, “He who makes a beast of himself…” in an attempt to explain the man’s behavior towards the woman.

Phrases Similar to He Who Makes a Beast of Himself…

  • To reflect on one’s self-worth.
  • He’ll do whatever it takes.

Phrases Opposite to He Who Makes a Beast of Himself…

  • Submission.
  • To follow the herd.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • He who makes a beast of himself…

Ways People May Say He Who Makes a Beast of Himself… Incorrectly

Using the phrase to refer to someone complying with a request or social construct would be the incorrect use of the phrase.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase He Who Makes a Beast of Himself…

You can use “he who makes a beast of himself…” in both social and professional settings. The phrase can have a dual meaning, providing a positive or negative connotation to the person you are talking about.

 

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