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Nosism, from the Latin nos, "we", is the practice of using the pronoun "we" to refer to oneself when expressing a personal opinion.[1][2]

Depending on the person using the nosism, different uses can be distinguished:

Royal "we" or pluralis majestatis[edit]

The royal "we" (pluralis majestatis) refers to a single person holding a high office, such as a monarch, bishop, or pope.

Editorial "we"[edit]

The editorial "we" is a similar phenomenon, in which an editorial columnist in a newspaper or a similar commentator in another medium refers to themselves as we when giving their opinion. Here, the writer casts them self in the role of a spokesperson: either for the media institution that employs them, or more generally on behalf of the party or body of citizens who agree with the commentary.[citation needed]

Author's "we" or pluralis modestiae [edit]

Similar to the editorial "we", pluralis modestiae is the practice common in mathematical and scientific literature of referring to a generic third person by we (instead of one or the informal you):

  • By adding four and five, we obtain nine.
  • We are thus led also to a definition of "time" in physics.Albert Einstein

"We" in this sense often refers to "the reader and the author," since the author often assumes that the reader knows and agrees with certain principles or previous theorems for the sake of brevity (or, if not, the reader is prompted to look them up).

This practice is discouraged in the social sciences because it fails to distinguish between sole authorship and co-authorship.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, Compact Edition, 1989, Page 1945
  2. ^ "A.Word.A.Day – nosism". Retrieved 11 January 2008.
  3. ^ Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (4 ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 1994. p. 30. ISBN 1557982414.