every man for himself

Idioms & Phrases

every man for himself

Each individual puts his or her own interests foremost. For example, In this company no one helps anyoneit's every man for himself. In Chaucer's day this dictum was stated approvingly, meaning "if you don't look out for yourself, no one else will," but today such selfishness is usually censured. Despite the wording, the term applies to either sex.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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