Men in white coats

Men in white coats is an idiom. We will examine the meaning of the idiom men in white coats, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Men in white coats is a reference to psychiatric workers. Usually, the image referred to is of multiple orderlies dressed in white coats who descend upon a psychiatric patient to subdue him and take him to a mental health facility. Health workers in general and especially doctors are depicted as wearing white lab coats. Doctors wore black coats as they worked until the latter part of the nineteenth century, when cleanliness became a major concern in health care. Also, a sick patient reacts more favorably to someone dressed in white than someone who is dressed in black, which is the symbol of death in many cultures. The expression men in white coats to specifically refer to mental health workers seems to have become popular mid-twentieth century.

Examples

All of Trump’s recent utterances point towards the need for the men in the white coats to be sent posthaste to see to the man in the White House. (The Belfast Telegraph)

Had anyone said back then in 2020 we’d be playing Manchester United in the Premier League, the men in white coats would have been due to turn up. (The Sussex Express)

You might think that once voters were alerted to this, they’d shrink from Greene as Mandrake did from Ripper, asking her to go nicely with the men in white coats who are here to help her. (The Omaha World-Herald)

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