self

noun
\ 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

self

pronoun

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

self

verb
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 Despite all the evidence against Ezra McCandless—the knife, the blood outside the car, the mysterious time gap before getting help—the defense insists Ezra acted in self-defense. Jamie Yuccas, CBS News, "Why was the word "boy" carved into the arm of an accused killer?," 8 Feb. 2020 With more episodes, perhaps, will come a sturdier sense of self. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to watch (and skip) in theaters and on Netflix this weekend," 7 Feb. 2020 Traditions help the town maintain a sense of self—especially the annual Good Friday Procession in the spring. National Geographic, "Can tourism save Italy’s ‘Dying Town’?," 6 Feb. 2020 Bayer began doing graphic design and advertising for outside companies to try to make the workshop self-supporting. Wendy Moonan, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Pioneering Work of Graphic Artist Herbert Bayer," 4 Feb. 2020 There are actually two Adams in The Topeka School: the middle-aged present-day narrator writes about his teenage self growing up in Kansas. Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books, "Learning to Fight," 28 Jan. 2020 Vicki is an original, who remained her authentic self from her Family Van-freakout through her last reunion. Robyn Merrett, PEOPLE.com, "Real Housewives of Orange County," 24 Jan. 2020 After holding Central Florida to just 54 points in a win and Memphis to 60 in a loss, UC’s top-30 defense did not look to be its usual self. Mitchell Gladstone, Cincinnati.com, "Jarron Cumberland joins top-10 scorers in UC history as Bearcats defeat the Temple Owls," 23 Jan. 2020 The Bucks started looking more like their usual, dominant selves early in the third quarter with a 21-5 run over a 4½-minute stretch. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks 111, Bulls 98: Cleaning up their act in the second half," 20 Jan. 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

Noun

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

Pronoun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

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

Verb

1905, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for self

Pronoun

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

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Self.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/self. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for self

self

noun
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

self

noun
\ 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.

self-

prefix

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

self

noun
\ 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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about self

Comments on self

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