Origin of white knight
Words nearby white knight
ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does white knight mean?
In internet slang, a white knight is a man who comes to the unsolicited defense of a woman online, in the hopes of romantic or sexual favor.
A white knight can also more generally refer to someone who rushes to the defense of another online, usually a person whose actions aren’t seen as worthy of defense.
How is white knight pronounced?[ wahyt nahyt ]
What are some other forms of white knight?
What are some other words related to white knight?
Where does white knight come from?
The notion of a white knight dates back to at least the 12th century, when French poet Chrétien de Troyes referred to the legendary Lancelot as the Blanc Chevalier (“White Knight” in French) in his Arthurian writings. The greatest of King Arthur’s knights, Lancelot was the height of gallantry and chivalry—and, less purely, lover of Queen Guinevere.
While Lancelot was the White Knight, white knight has been used to name anyone who comes to the defense or rescue of someone since the early 1600s. It can also mean a “champion” more generally. This term is occasionally used alongside a knight in shining armor to bring to mind images of valiant knights saving maidens from dragons in medieval romances. And it does see metaphorical uses in very non-romantic contexts. For instance, a last-minute bailout may be described as a white knight for a struggling bank.
In contemporary internet culture, especially on forums and online games, white knight has taken on a negative meaning. Online, a white knight refers to a man coming to the rescue of a woman who never asked for help—and most likely doesn’t need it. This white knight sees the female internet surfer as a damsel in distress in discussions on message boards, incapable of standing up for herself while she’s making her own arguments. And this white knight, it is commonly thought, is only performing his mission in hopes of romantic rewards that the woman “owes” him for his aid—suggesting the very trope of the white knight has always been less than purely noble.
The internet white knight appeared as early as 2007 in a post on the humor site Something Awful by user Evan Wade called “A Few Words on the Internet White Knight.” The post defined at length what an internet white knight is and the delusional rationale for their behavior.
White knight became used in the 2010s as an insult used by internet trolls to put down men speaking out against sexist behavior. They accuse such men as acting as white knights to discredit them and characterize their concerns as insincere.
Into the 2010s, the slang white knight further evolved to refer to a person who makes a post or comment in defense of someone else online—as if they are rushing to save them from criticism. This act of defense, often referred to as white-knighting, is widely seen as objectionable.
How is white knight used in real life?
White knight continues to be used as a metaphor for a rescuer or champion of some cause, although often to playful or ironic effect.
— Bon Appétit (@bonappetit) May 6, 2016
God forbid they actually portray Muslim women accurately but instead they choose to portray us as oppressed waiting for our white knight in shinning armor to rip off our hijabs and take us away on his big green truck https://t.co/RzE7VtVHiu
— Maryam🌹 (@maryamhaidar_) November 6, 2019
Online, white knight often appears as a verb (e.g., to white-knight someone) or gerund (e.g., to engage in white-knighting).
Internet white-knighting is variously seen as condescending (from the viewpoint of people who feel it implies women can’t stand up for themselves or need saving); insincere (from the viewpoint of people who see the behavior as having an ulterior motive); or weak (from the sexist viewpoint of men who mock other men for sticking up for women).
Are you white knighting her in an attempt to gain access to her pantaloons?
Or are you here for banter?
— Seńor Kunt (@LordEsway) June 6, 2018
White-knighting is also used more generally for speaking up for someone else online, especially someone whose actions aren’t seen as defensible.
this is some mighty fine white knighting pic.twitter.com/qLmczmMNka
— David Covucci (@DavidCovucci) April 30, 2020
More examples of white knight:
“Before you go white knighting, make sure your colleague actually wants your help. If she’d like you to speak to the brass on her behalf, go ahead, but she may prefer a subtler vote of confidence: someone to gently push her to ask for a raise herself, or to help come up with a solid case as to why she deserves more.”
—Urban Diplomat (column), Toronto Life, April 2018
How to use white knight in a sentence
The breakdown of the 114th Congress is 80 percent white, 80 percent male, and 92 percent Christian.
If Congress accurately reflected our nation on the basis of race, about 63 percent would be white, not 80 percent.
There were rumors of shrieks and flashes emanating from the well, and reports of a figure in white.New York’s Most Tragic Ghost Loves Minimalist Swedish Fashion|Nina Strochlic|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
The FBI raided his home in 2000 with an affidavit questioning his use of $200,000 from his white supremacist fundraising.
But after winning 55 percent of the white vote, Duke had a database of supporters some politicians coveted.
And she would be wearing some of the jewels with the white dress—just a few, not many, of course.Rosemary in Search of a Father|C. N. Williamson
None other would dare to show herself unveiled to a stranger, and a white man at that.The Red Year|Louis Tracy
One would not have wanted her white neck a mite less full or her beautiful arms more slender.The Awakening and Selected Short Stories|Kate Chopin
That evening in the gondola, with one old and two newer friends, is marked with a white stone in my recollection.Glances at Europe|Horace Greeley
Why not have sought out the pure white lime-rocks of the flat country, or the grey granite of the hills?