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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Shaw noted that many of the problems Stanford had against Colorado were self-inflicted. Michael Wagaman, SFChronicle.com, "Stanford QB Davis Mills likely to start at Washington State," 13 Nov. 2019 To cope with the toxic partisanship today, Ken Jacobsen, a former teacher in Wisconsin, strives to be radically self-aware. The Christian Science Monitor, "pork says about Chinese identity," 13 Nov. 2019 What better way to self-inflict public humiliation than by posting an Instagram selfie that receives a lackluster number of likes? Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Is Instagram Hiding Likes for U.S. Users?," 12 Nov. 2019 The Toy Hall of Fame emphasizes its holistic approach to nominating toys, which is self-evident in a list that includes the Nintendo Game Boy and pinball machine alongside bubbles and playground swings. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "The 3 Toys That Made This Year's Toy Hall of Fame Class," 12 Nov. 2019 Ultimately, the logic of just lose weight is infuriatingly self-preserving. Your Fat Friend, SELF, "When I Speak Out Against Fat Shaming, I'm Told to ‘Just Lose Weight’," 12 Nov. 2019 The concept basically marries the idea behind thermal blowout brushes (like this) and self-curling irons like Beachwaver. Lindsay Schallon, Glamour, "Dyson Made a $500 Dryer That Literally Curls Your Hair for You—And It's on Sale," 8 Nov. 2019 Rather, the point is that an inconsistent judicial standard, excessive regard for employer convenience, and colleges’ self-interest ought not to oblige Americans to buy a very expensive credential when good alternatives exist. Frederick M. Hess, National Review, "Break Up the B.A. Cartel," 7 Nov. 2019 British imperial self-interest in this case overruled ethnonational thinking. John Broich, The Conversation, "Why there is no Kurdish nation," 6 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about self

Time Traveler for self

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for self

Last Updated

18 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Self.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/self-. Accessed 22 November 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up self? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

not agreeing with established beliefs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!