The word narcissist has been getting a lot of attention the last few years. Narcissist appears to have been coined by Coleridge in 1822, but didn’t catch on until 1905. Narcissism means to show extreme love & admiration for oneself. The word comes from the Greek story of Narcissus, a young man who fell in love with his own reflection.
Related terms or idioms & their meanings include:
To be full of oneself is to be annoyingly self-focused.
To have a swelled head is to have an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
The word egotist arrived in 1714 meaning one who makes too-frequent use of the first person. Since then it has morphed into meaning one who is boastful & conceited.
As of 1969, we began to say a person enthralled with him/herself was on an ego trip.
Or there’s the academic term from 1890 — egocentric -- meaning limited in outlook or concern to one’s own activities or interests.
A more colorful term arriving in the 1520s is cocksure, a person as assured of himself as a barnyard rooster. A century or so later cocksure began to mean arrogant & overconfident to the point of annoyance. It seems DH Lawrence offered a “feminine version” of this word, but for some reason hensure never caught on.
And back in 1835 Davy Crockett gave us too big for your britches/breeches, an idiom he applied to General Andrew Jackson, a man Crockett believed overvalued himself.
In 1991, we received a contemporary version of too big for your britches courtesy of the British musical group Right Said Fred. Their first hit song was inspired by the self-infatuation of mirror-gazers at the gym & gave us the idiom too sexy for your shirt.
Comments? You know what to do.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: the OED, Etymonline, Merriam Webster, & Wordnik, Free Dictionary, Collins Dictionary, Phrases.org, CDUniverse
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.