\ ˈself How to pronounce self (audio) , Southern also ˈsef \
plural selves\ ˈselvz How to pronounce selves (audio) , Southern also  ˈsevz \

Definition of self

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a(1) : an individual's typical character or behavior her true self was revealed
(2) : an individual's temporary behavior or character his better self
b : a person in prime condition feel like my old self today
2 : the union of elements (such as body, emotions, thoughts, and sensations) that constitute the individuality and identity of a person
3 : personal interest or advantage
4a : the entire person of an individual
b : the realization or embodiment of an abstraction
5 : material that is part of an individual organism ability of the immune system to distinguish self from nonself



Definition of self (Entry 2 of 5)

: myself, himself, herself a check payable to self

Definition of self (Entry 3 of 5)

1a : having a single character or quality throughout specifically : having one color only a self flower
b : of the same kind (as in color, material, or pattern) as something with which it is used self trimming
2 obsolete : identical, same
3 obsolete : belonging to oneself : own


selfed; selfing; selfs

Definition of self (Entry 4 of 5)

transitive verb

2 : to pollinate with pollen from the same flower or plant

intransitive verb

: to undergo self-pollination

Definition of self- (Entry 5 of 5)

1a : oneself or itself self-supporting
b : of oneself or itself self-abasement
c : by oneself or itself self-propelled self-acting
2a : to, with, for, or toward oneself or itself self-consistent self-addressed self-love
b : of or in oneself or itself inherently self-evident
c : from or by means of oneself or itself self-fertile

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Examples of self in a Sentence

Noun She showed her better self at the party. Her public self is very different from her private self. Philosophers have written about the conception of the self. Adjective a self-red rose of a shade that hasn't been seen before
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun All have been asked to self-quarantine in accordance with Norwegian regulations, according to the cruise line. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "33 crew infected on Hurtigruten ship: Passengers disembarked, potentially exposing communities," 1 Aug. 2020 Grijalva went into self-quarantine and was tested as a precaution, Nolan said. Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic, "Rep. Raúl Grijalva tests positive for COVID-19, is symptom-free," 1 Aug. 2020 But according to the travel order, any Chicagoans who travel to Wisconsin would need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return. Genevieve Redsten, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'This has been the year of worry': Wisconsin tourism businesses are concerned with Chicago's new travel restrictions," 1 Aug. 2020 On June 25, the Georgia Department of Public Health began an investigation into the camp and recommended that all attendees be tested and self-quarantine. Ally Mauch,, "260 Kids and Staff Test Positive for Coronavirus at Georgia Overnight Camp, CDC Says," 1 Aug. 2020 These would be made available for people who need to self-quarantine or isolate but do not have the living situation to do so, such as people who are homeless or living in SROs. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: March 16," 30 July 2020 More Gohmert's positive test has forced other House members to self-quarantine. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Pelosi announces mandatory mask policy for House," 30 July 2020 Hundreds of Florida high school graduates and guests who attended a commencement ceremony on Saturday were advised by health officials to self-quarantine for two weeks after one attendee tested positive for the coronavirus. Wilson Wong, NBC News, "Coronavirus case leads to quarantine advisory for hundreds who attended Florida graduation," 29 July 2020 Someone who passes through a high-risk state, and may visit a few rest areas along the way or have a layover at an airport, they are not required to self-quarantine upon entering New York. Brendan J. Lyons, Houston Chronicle, "Travelers from high-risk states now face mandatory $2K fine for not filling out forms," 13 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'self.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of self


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1905, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for self


Middle English (intensive pronoun), from Old English; akin to Old High German selb, intensive pronoun, and probably to Latin suus one's own — more at suicide

Combining form

Middle English, from Old English, from self

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Time Traveler for self

Time Traveler

The first known use of self was before the 12th century

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Statistics for self

Last Updated

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Self.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for self


How to pronounce self- (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of self

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the person that someone normally or truly is
: a particular part of your personality or character that is shown in a particular situation
: the personality or character that makes a person different from other people : the combination of emotions, thoughts, feelings, etc., that make a person different from others

English Language Learners Definition of self- (Entry 2 of 2)

: yourself or itself
: of yourself or itself
: by, to, with, for, or toward yourself or itself


\ ˈself How to pronounce self (audio) \
plural selves\ ˈselvz \

Kids Definition of self

1 : a person regarded as an individual apart from everyone else
2 : a special side of a person's character He isn't his cheerful self today.



Kids Definition of self-

1 : someone's or something's self self-governing
2 : of or by someone's or something's self self-control
3 : to, with, for, or toward someone's or something's self self-respect


\ ˈself How to pronounce self (audio) \
plural selves\ ˈselvz How to pronounce selves (audio) \

Medical Definition of self

1 : the union of elements (as body, emotions, thoughts, and sensations) that constitute the individuality and identity of a person
2 : material that is part of an individual organism ability of the immune system to distinguish self from nonself

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More from Merriam-Webster on self

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for self

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with self

Spanish Central: Translation of self

Nglish: Translation of self for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of self for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about self

Comments on self

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