- (often linguistics) The practice of (excessively) referring to oneself in the third person.
2002, Lewis Walker, comp., “General Works (Items 0067–1154)”, in Shakespeare and the Classical Tradition: An Annotated Bibliography 1961–1991, New York, N.Y.; London: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-8240-6697-0, page 300:
- […] "[I]lleism with a difference" occurs when a character, speaking in the first person, refers to himself by name (not simply by a pronoun, which is illeism proper). [William] Sh[akespeare] makes significant use of the device in only four "middle plays." […] This sort of illeism enriches the dramatic context […]
2005, S. Viswanathan, “‘Illeism with a Difference’ in Certain Middle Plays”, in Exploring Shakespeare: The Dynamics of Playmaking, New Delhi: Orient Longman, ISBN 978-81-250-2663-1, page 5, footnote 12:
- In origin, the device of ‘illeism’ is a joint legacy to Elizabethan drama of the native English medieval stage tradition and of the Senecan translations, and one already used before [William] Shakespeare by [Thomas] Kyd, [George] Peele, and [Christopher] Marlowe. Also, this ‘illeism’ was a mannerism of the historical Julius Caesar as in evidence in his Commentaries; […]
2007, Anu Garg, “Words to Describe People: Insults”, in The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Words, New York, N.Y.: Plume Book, ISBN 978-0-452-28861-4:
- [F]or some reason, illeism is especially attractive to professional sports players. The award for the best display of illeism has to go to baseball player Rickey Henderson, who left this message on his manager's voice-mail: "Kevin, this is Rickey, calling on behalf of Rickey" (quoted in Sports Illustrated).
2007, Douglas Bruster, “The Changeling [1653; by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley]”, in Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino, editors, Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works, Oxford: Clarendon Press, ISBN 978-0-19-818570-3, annotation of Act IV, scene iii, line 107, page 1100, column 2:
- It seems likely that Isabella's 'how she treads the air' is the kind of illeism that Franciscus uses later in this scene at l[ine] 216: 'He handles him like a feather. Hey!' […] It should be noticed that some editors are confused by Franciscus's illeism as well, and give his line to Lollio.