Understanding the Idiom: "more equal" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English
Etymology: Coined by George Orwell in 1945; see Animal Farm quotation below.

Throughout history, there have been many examples of societies that have struggled with issues related to equality. From ancient civilizations to modern democracies, people have grappled with questions about who should hold power and how resources should be distributed. In many cases, these debates have centered around concepts like justice, fairness, and equity – all of which are closely tied to the idea of being “equal”.

To fully grasp what is meant by “more equal”, we must also examine how this phrase has been used in popular culture and media. For example, it is often seen in political discourse when discussing issues like taxation or healthcare reform. It can also be found in literature and art as a way to critique societal norms or highlight injustices.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “more equal”

The phrase “more equal” has been used in various contexts throughout history, often to describe a situation where certain individuals or groups are given preferential treatment over others. The origins of this idiom can be traced back to ancient times, where societies were often organized around strict hierarchies based on social class, race, or gender.

In many cases, those who held positions of power and privilege were considered to be more equal than others. This led to widespread inequality and discrimination against marginalized communities, who were often denied basic rights and opportunities.

Over time, the concept of equality began to evolve as people recognized the need for greater inclusivity and fairness in society. This led to movements for civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and other forms of social justice that sought to challenge existing power structures and promote greater equality for all.

Today, the phrase “more equal” is often used ironically or sarcastically to highlight situations where certain individuals or groups are given unfair advantages over others. It serves as a reminder that true equality cannot exist if some people are more equal than others.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “more equal”

The idiom “more equal” is a popular phrase used in various contexts to describe a situation where some individuals or groups are given preferential treatment over others. This phrase is often used to express frustration or dissatisfaction with an unfair system, where certain people are considered more important or deserving than others.

Variations of the Idiom

There are several variations of the idiom “more equal” that are commonly used in different situations. One variation is “equal but separate,” which refers to a situation where two things or groups are considered equal, but they are kept apart from each other for various reasons.

Another variation is “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” which comes from George Orwell’s book Animal Farm. This phrase highlights the hypocrisy of those who claim to believe in equality while simultaneously practicing favoritism towards certain individuals or groups.

Usage Examples

The idiom “more equal” can be used in many different ways depending on the context. For example:

– In politics: The government claims to treat all citizens equally, but it’s clear that some people have more power and influence than others.

– In education: Some schools provide better resources and opportunities for their students, making them more equal than other schools.

– In relationships: A couple may argue about one partner feeling like they’re not being treated as an equal in the relationship.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “more equal”


  • Equally important
  • Fairer
  • More just
  • More balanced
  • More even-handed
  • More impartial
  • More unbiased
  • More egalitarian


  • Inequitable
  • Bias
  • Unfair
  • Unequal
  • Partiality
  • Discriminatory
  • Prejudiced

The use of this idiom is not limited to English-speaking cultures. In fact, it has been used in various countries around the world. For instance, in China, a similar phrase exists: “同等重要,但有所区别” (tóng děng zhòng yào, dàn yǒu suǒ qū bié), which translates to “equally important but with some differences.” This shows that the idea of fairness and equality is universal.

Practical Exercises for the Idiom “more equal”

Exercise 1: Identifying Examples

The first exercise involves identifying examples of situations where the concept of “more equal” applies. Think about scenarios where certain individuals or groups are given preferential treatment over others, despite all being considered equal under the law. Write down at least five examples and explain why they demonstrate the idea of “more equal”.

Exercise 2: Creating Scenarios

The second exercise requires you to create your own scenarios that illustrate the concept of “more equal”. These can be based on real-life situations or entirely fictional ones. Be creative and think outside the box! Once you have created your scenarios, share them with a partner and discuss how they exemplify the idea of “more equal”.

Note: It is important to remember that while this idiom may seem contradictory at first glance, it highlights an important issue regarding equality and fairness in society. By practicing its usage, we can become more aware of instances where inequality exists and work towards creating a more just world for all individuals regardless of their background or status.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “more equal”

Avoid Using “More Equal” Literally

The phrase “more equal” may seem contradictory since equality implies that everyone is treated the same. However, this idiom is used figuratively to express a situation where some individuals or groups have more power or influence than others within an ostensibly egalitarian system. It’s essential not to take the phrase literally but instead understand its intended meaning.

Avoid Using “More Equal” in a Negative Context

The use of the term “more equal” can be seen as negative because it highlights inequality rather than equality. Therefore, it’s best not to use this expression in situations where you want to emphasize fairness or justice for all individuals or groups involved.

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