No man is an island

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No man is an island is a phrase from a longer, often quoted literary work. However, the expression no man is an island may be considered a proverb in its own right. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that gives advice or shares a universal truth. We will examine the meaning of the expression no man is an island, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The phrase no man is an island means that no one is truly self-sufficient, everyone must rely on the company and comfort of others in order to thrive. As with many proverbs, often only the first line is repeated, as the writer expects the reader to supply the rest of the quote himself. The phrase is a quote from a sermon written by the poet John Donne. It is entitled Devotions upon emergent occasions and several steps in my sicknes—Meditation XVII, written in 1624: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” Interestingly, within the same paragraph of this work are two phrases that are still often used: “…any man’s death diminishes me…” and “…therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne was an English cleric in the Church of England and was one of the metaphysical poets.


“We need to learn from each other because no man is an island,” Ms Dokoni said. (The Fiji Sun)

Just as no man is an island, no island is an island in this increasingly interconnected world. (The Royal Gazette)

Crack-Up serves as loosely defined concept album that explores the theme that “no man is an island” to varying degrees. (The Cornell Sun)