a pillar of society

pillar of society

One who is a particularly active, respected, and influential member of one's local social sphere. My grandfather was a pillar of society because of how many people his businesses employed. She was long considered a pillar of society, so she won the mayoral election with ease.
See also: of, pillar, society
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

a pillar of society

or

a pillar of the community

If you describe someone as a pillar of society or a pillar of the community, you mean that they are an active and respected member of a group of people. He is a pillar of society, the son every mother would love to have. My father had been a pillar of the community.
See also: of, pillar, society
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a pillar of society

a person regarded as a particularly responsible citizen.
The use of pillar to mean ‘a person regarded as a mainstay or support for something’ is recorded from medieval times; Pillars of Society was the English title of an 1888 play by the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen .
See also: of, pillar, society
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

pillar of society, a

A chief supporter of one’s community, social group, or other institution. The earliest example of being such a pillar dates from the early fourteenth century and involves a pillar of the church, which Eric Partridge deemed a particularly objectionable cliché by 1800 or so. Shakespeare used a slightly different locution in The Merchant of Venice; at the trial Shylock says, “I charge you by the law, whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,” presumably hoping that the judge will respond favorably to this compliment. From the late nineteenth century on, pillar of society was often used sarcastically or pejoratively, the target generally being both the individual and the society being upheld. Ibsen so used it in his play, translated as Pillars of Society (1877), and his example was followed by Shaw and others. Still another variant, pillar of the community, may be used either ironically or straightforwardly.
See also: of, pillar
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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