Knight in Shining Armor – Idiom, Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

As far as English idioms go, knight in shining armor has held a place of honor for quite some time. But what does it mean? And is it spelled armor or armour? Grab a warm beverage and sit back as I explain all the important details surrounding this common phrase.

Knight in Shining Armor Meaning

Knight in Shining Armor Idiom Origin Meaning

The idiom knight in shining armor mostly refers to a person, usually a guy, who comes to the aid of someone else, usually a woman, during a difficult situation. It’s particularly used when the person is vulnerable or in some kind of distress. It conjures up an image of a chivalrous hero or imaginary knight rescuing someone in need.

I actually used this exact expression on my husband the other day. I was packing hundreds of PR boxes for my latest book, and I’d bitten off more than I could chew. He strolled into my office, found me in near tears, and immediately jumped in to help me pack the boxes. I called him my knight in shining armor!

Is It Knight in Shining Armor or Armour?

Here’s the thing—both spellings are technically correct. Armor without the letter u is used in American English, and armour is used in British English and Canadian English. It’s the same knight, just with a different linguistic shine!

The Origin of a Knight in Shining Armor

A Knight in Shining Armor Ngram
A knight in shining armor usage trend.

This phrase obviously originated from the romantic imagery of medieval knights gallantly riding to the rescue of damsels in distress in countless stories and fables. The concept itself was popularized in Victorian literature and has become a staple in the English language ever since.

One super early instance of the phrase in print was back in 1790 in The Monthly Review, a British journal. The poem was by Henry Pye and read, “No more the knight, in shining armour dress’d. Opposes to the pointed lance his breast.”

What Is the Female Version of a Knight in Shining Armor

Interestingly, there isn’t a widely accepted female equivalent for a knight in shining armor. But I’m a fantasy writer, gosh darn it, so here are a few ideas I’d use!

  • A damsel on a dazzling steed
  • A heroine in gleaming armor

A Knight in Shining Armor Synonyms

Spice up your writing and conversations with these alternatives to a knight in shining armor.

  • Hero
  • Rescuer
  • Savior
  • Champion
  • White knight

A Knight in Shining Armor Examples in a Sentence

Knight in Shining Armor Idiom Origin Meaning 1

Ready to integrate knight in shining armor into your conversations? Here’s how I’d do it.

  • After helping his co-worker recover the lost files, Mike felt like a knight in shining armor.
  • Charlie doesn’t need a knight in shining armor; she can handle her problems just fine on her own.
  • Adam came in like a knight in shining armor when he fixed my car in the middle of nowhere.

Final Words “A Knight in Shining Armor”

That should be all you need to know about knight in shining armor. Whether you’re the gallant knight, the one in distress or simply a language lover, remember that the charm of this phrase lies in its chivalrous spirit.

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