nosism and the majestic plural

We have long been familiar with the royal we and the editorial we, the use of plural pronouns to refer to a singular personage. But we had not heretofore been aware that the royal we is also known as the majestic plural, nor had we known that the majestic plural, the editorial we, and the author’s we (pluralis modestiae) are all instances of the phenomenon known as nosism, from the Latin nos, meaning we.

(The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary provides an additional alternative definition for nosism: “A selfish attitude in a group of people, corresponding to egotism in an individual.” However, we disdain to recognize that definition, preferring the using-plural-pronouns-for-individuals definition given above.)

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