Definition of noble savage in English:

noble savage


  • A representative of primitive humankind as idealized in romantic literature, symbolizing the innate goodness of humanity when free from the corrupting influence of civilization.

    ‘guilt over the genocide of indigenous peoples led to an exaltation of the noble savage’
    • ‘And the delusion is that the only authentic society is made up from noble savages, wresting their comfort and protection from raw nature.’
    • ‘It described noble savages playing oboes and amorously frolicking in tropical glades.’
    • ‘The aristocracy tend to be cowardly and deceitful while the lowborn are noble savages.’
    • ‘In 1961 Kroeber's widow Theodora wrote a best seller portraying Ishi as a noble savage; the book became a favorite of the 1960s flower children.’
    • ‘In the tradition of the noble savage of literature, Tarzan must confront the hypocrisy, illogic, and brutality of the human world, the world that he is told he belongs to but which his upbringing has not prepared him for.’
    • ‘Here, seen just after the horrors of the Second World War, was a divine titan from a primitive and pure society, a modern representation of the noble savage of the Enlightenment.’
    • ‘The mystery's starting point is Hobbes's view of the moral universe: the conviction that in the state of nature, man is not a noble savage but a natural-born-killer.’
    • ‘However well intentioned, these approaches to a national music turned out quaintly inadequate - like art nouveau pictures of noble savages and happy Negroes.’
    • ‘The noble savage bit gets a bit old and at times downright insulting as his voiceover appeals to the inherent spirituality of India's people to help save the dwindling tiger population.’
    • ‘Under such conditions man is a degraded animal, and the noble savage as great a myth as the elixir of life.’
    • ‘This popular environmental movement revived the romanticized image of the noble savage as the quintessential endangered ‘species’.’
    • ‘And it will be done not by treating the Maori as noble savages, but simply by treating them as equals.’
    • ‘The American Indian as a noble savage became quite popular as a theme in painting and in the decorative arts, as can be seen on the cup illustrated above.’
    • ‘The idea of the noble savage died hard: novelists and poets like these were passionate in their admiration for the most untamed of native peoples, like the Zulu, or the Pathans of the North-West Frontier.’
    • ‘The Scythians and the Hyperboreans (sometimes the Aethiopians) were the noble savages of the Ancients.’
    • ‘Shakespeare is not a partisan of the noble savage who lives by instinct alone: rather, it is the savage in man that he fears and detests.’
    • ‘In Mexico, she is obsessed with the aloof Huichol warriors, and is building her life around them - or around an idealised vision of noble savages.’
    • ‘The Native Americans in ‘On the Rez’ aren't noble savages, to be revered for their mystical connection to nature.’
    • ‘There's always that troubling liberal idea of the noble savage at the back of one's head, with his lovely ancient ways and his especial rituals.’
    • ‘Or I was cast as the noble savage, with a jewel in my navel and a long black wig.’


noble savage