self-in·​ju·​ry ˌself-ˈinj-rē How to pronounce self-injury (audio)
: injury to one's own body
The dog's excessive licking led to self-injury.
especially : the act of purposely hurting oneself (as by cutting or burning the skin) as an emotional coping mechanism : self-harm
The most common forms of self-injury include cutting, burning, punching or banging oneself. … These techniques provide a sense of calm from overwhelming feelings, but the momentary relief is followed by feelings of guilt and shame. The Reporter (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin)
self-injurious adjective
In this trial, risperidone was safe and effective for the short-term treatment of tantrums, aggression, and self-injurious behavior in children with autistic disorder. The New England Journal of Medicine
self-injure intransitive verb
self-injured; self-injuring; self-injures
Sufferers have traditionally been met with disgust by doctors, who find their self-injuring offensive. Tamala M. Edwards

Examples of self-injury in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In December, Qiao Zhihong, a leading Chinese psychologist, observed that over the past three years, there has been a considerable increase in the number of students with depression, anxiety, self-injury, and suicide. Yanzhong Huang, Foreign Affairs, 16 Feb. 2023 As a result, parents may be unaware of their teens early or worsening symptoms, including self-injury, up to 80% of the time. Jessica Schleider, STAT, 1 Apr. 2024 The practice is widely recommended for autistic kids who exhibit dangerous behaviors, such as self-injury or aggression toward others, or who need to acquire basic skills, such as dressing themselves or going to the bathroom. Jessica Winter, The New Yorker, 12 Feb. 2024 Chancellor's research includes the use of big data sets from Reddit to understand how people talk about severe mental illness and related behaviors, like suicidal thoughts and self-injury. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 4 Sep. 2023 Suicide attempts, self-injury, and violent attacks rise along with temperatures. Globe Columnist,, 19 Aug. 2023 Following reports of self-injury and suicidal thoughts among a small number of people who’ve taken Ozempic or Wegovy in Europe and the United Kingdom, health regulators there are investigating whether the drugs carry a risk of these side effects. Aria Bendix, NBC News, 1 Aug. 2023 Two cases of suicidal thoughts were reported to the EMA relating to the drugs, with another linked to thoughts of self-injury raised in connection with Saxenda., 12 July 2023 Another patient on Saxenda, Novo’s earlier and less effective weight-loss drug that contains the active ingredient liraglutide, reported thoughts of self-injury, the agency said. Reuters, NBC News, 10 July 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'self-injury.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1864, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of self-injury was in 1864

Dictionary Entries Near self-injury

Cite this Entry

“Self-injury.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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