man of the world

man of the world

noun
a man who is widely experienced in the ways of the world and people; an urbane, sophisticated man.

Origin:
1300–50; Middle English

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Idioms & Phrases

man of the world

Also, woman of the world. A sophisticated person, experienced in social conventions. For example, You can discuss anything with himhe's a man of the world, or She's a woman of the world and understands these delicate issues. The first expression dates from about 1200 and originally meant "a man of the secular world" or "a married man" (that is, not a priest). Shakespeare applied this latter sense in As You Like It (5:3) where Audrey, at the prospect of marriage, says: "I hope it is no dishonest desire to be a woman of the world." Henry Fielding in Tom Jones (1749) also echoed this earlier sense: "A man of the world; that is to say, a man who directs his conduct in this world as one, who being fully persuaded there is no other, is resolved to make the most of this." By the mid-1800s the idea of sophistication had replaced this meaning.

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