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every man for himself

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Each individual puts his or her own interests foremost. For example, In this company no one helps anyone—it's every man for himself. In Chaucer's day this dictum was stated approvingly, meaning “if you don't look out for yourself, no one else will,” but today such selfishness is usually censured. Despite the wording, the term applies to either sex.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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