self-in·​ter·​est ˌself-ˈin-t(ə-)rəst How to pronounce self-interest (audio)
: a concern for one's own advantage and well-being
acted out of self-interest and fear
: one's own interest or advantage
self-interest requires that we be generous in foreign aid
ˌself-ˈin-t(ə-)rə-stəd How to pronounce self-interest (audio)
self-interestedly adverb
self-interestedness noun

Examples of self-interest in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Critics accused him of pursuing narrow self-interest and political expediency. Susan Haigh, Fortune, 28 Mar. 2024 Deploying a weapon in space would be against Russia’s own self-interest, experts argue. Georgina Torbet, The Verge, 19 Mar. 2024 Indeed, people are hardwired for both self-interest and altruism. Talia Varley, Fortune, 12 Mar. 2024 Leaders who act largely or even entirely in their self-interest, as opposed to in our interest, the public interest, are part of everyday life. Barbara Kellerman, Fortune, 6 Mar. 2024 Nevertheless, arguably, Musk's advocacy for a development pause in AI might have been driven by self-interest – to afford him additional time to advance his own AI endeavors. Nizan Geslevich Packin, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2024 This is where the accusation of self-interest comes to bear. Sam Dean, Los Angeles Times, 1 Mar. 2024 From a game-theoretic perspective, nodes allocate resources based on local knowledge and self-interest, leading to suboptimal social outcomes and limited network performance. Max (chong) Li, Forbes, 24 Feb. 2024 Still, the movie is smart enough to ask: How much denial and self-interest are at the root of Sharon’s selflessness? Jen Yamato, Washington Post, 20 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'self-interest.' 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

1595, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of self-interest was in 1595

Dictionary Entries Near self-interest

Cite this Entry

“Self-interest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a concern for one's own advantage
acted out of self-interest and fear
: one's own interest or advantage

More from Merriam-Webster on self-interest

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