Behind Every Great Man There Is A Great Woman

Meaning of “Behind Every Great Man There Is A Great Woman”

This proverb “Behind every great man is a great woman” has literal meanings. It means that a woman has been playing a significant role when a man has succeeded. The phrase applies to every woman who may not have received the credit for their work at first. However, the man who might be the woman’s son, brother, husband, or even a father has acknowledged her part or sacrifice for him. She is also as great as the man. In simple terms, a great woman brings forward a great man.

Origin of “Behind Every Great Man There Is A Great Woman”

The proverb “Behind every great man there is a great woman” has become popular during the 60s and 70s in the United States after the femininity emerged as a movement in literature and social sciences. It was first used by a newspaper, The Port Arthur News, in its publication of February 1946 in a report on sports.

“As he received his trophy, the plucky quarterback unfolded the story of how he ‘came back’. He said, ‘They say behind every great man there’s a woman. While I’m not a great man, there’s a great woman behind me.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves by Eurythmics

Now there was a time
When they used to say
That behind every great man
There had to be a great woman

But in these times of change
You know that it’s no longer true
So we’re comin’ out of the kitchen
‘Cause there’s somethin’ we forgot to say to you, we say

The proverb is used in the last line of the first stanza. The singer recalls what people used to say. According to them, a woman has always been behind a great man. Rather a woman has caused the greatness of the man. However, as now the women are becoming independent, it means they are going to do those great tasks themselves. In other words, according to the singer, the old proverb is truer in modern times.

Example #2

Behind Every Good Man, There’s A Woman by Vernon Oxford

I’ve got a story to tell
So listen my friend listen well
This story is told to the young and the old
Behind every good man there’s a woman

Some men will try to say it’s a lie
But behind every good man there’s a woman
Yes behind every good man there’s a woman
The woman that I have in mind
Just happens to be that wife of mine
Well she really stuck by me and made me what I am
Yes behind every good man there’s a woman

The proverb is repeated a few times in the song. Although the singer adopts a unique approach, he addresses these lyrics to fellow men. He acknowledges and gives credit to his wife for all his success. Indirectly, he encourages men to respect, love, and listen to their wives. He also adds that a few men may not believe in his claims.

Example #3

Behind Every Great Man: The Forgotten Women Behind the World’s Famous and Infamous by Marlene Wagman-Geller

This is an excellent read by Marlene Wagman-Geller about the world’s popular women who have ruled the world of men. These range from Mrs. Oscar Wilde to Carolyn Adams to prove that whenever there is a legend, there is always an unknown mark of femininity behind them. In fact, some of these women have charted a new course of history through the impacts they had had on their mend. The proverb proves true in the case of these men that ‘behind every great man there is a great woman’.

Example #4

American Proverbs About Women: A Reference Guide by Lois Kerschen

Even a compliment could be turned into a restriction: “Behind every great man there is a great woman” may be intended to give the woman some credit in the success of her man, but it still says that the success in his, not hers, and that she should not be beside him, but back behind him in a supportive-only role, quiet and unseen. A woman is told that she “can’t drive her husband” (translated: she shouldn’t be a nag”, “but she can lead him.” The problem is that the proverb is not advising that she be in front of him taking charge, only that, in a woman’s nurturing way, she can guide him to the fulfillment of his potential.

In the above paragraph, the author has arranged the proverbs and explained their subtler meanings in her own crispy language. The author argues that it does not mean that women should lead their men by standing beside them. It means that they can help them without pushing them too much. Perhaps, the author is not pleased with the message or the meaning of the proverb, which asks women to be a silent helper, instead of being an in-charge.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “Wendy always stayed up when her son was preparing for the SATs. During a family dinner, he said, ‘behind every great man there is a great woman, so I am thankful to my mom for staying up and encouraging me not to give up.”

Example #2: “If you support a man who achieved success after your help, the phrase behind every great man there is a great woman comes true. But he fails; he will blame you for all the failures too.”

Example #3: “He has proved it through experience that behind every great man there is a great woman. It is because he has now become the president of the tribe.”

Example #4: “I don’t want to follow the rule that behind every great man, there is always a great woman. If I need something, I’ll go get it done myself, and the man has to do the same.”

Example #5: “Behind every great man, there was always a great woman who stayed supportive and positive. Sadly, no one acknowledges the role women played in the old society.”