self-pres·​er·​va·​tion ˌself-ˌpre-zər-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce self-preservation (audio)
: preservation of oneself from destruction or harm
: a natural or instinctive tendency to act so as to preserve one's own existence

Examples of self-preservation in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This defensive stance makes one prioritize self-preservation over mutual growth and reconciliation. Mark Travers, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 This particular criticism appears late in the film as a bit of tongue-in-cheek lamp shading, as though the movie were protecting itself, but this instinct towards self-preservation is part of its problem. Siddhant Adlakha, Variety, 18 Feb. 2024 As each Sea Mink-ette’s instinct for self-preservation vies with perfectionism and a reluctance to let her teammates down, vulnerabilities register, tensions surge and the everyday world shows its seams. Celia Wren, Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2024 There’s no judgment here on those who need to step away from soul-crushing updates in the name of self-preservation. Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times, 12 Feb. 2024 Her will—and maybe her capacity for self-preservation—had waned. Amory Rowe Salem and Cheri Lucas Rowlands, Longreads, 9 Jan. 2024 There is beauty in surrendering to new rhythms in a new season of life, to choosing self-preservation over self-interest. Carola Lovering, Vogue, 5 Feb. 2024 Ultimately, Iran's endgame is its own self-preservation, said Sanam Vakil, Middle East programme director at Chatham House. Harriet Marsden, theweek, 30 Jan. 2024 Saturday’s loss was a reminder of all the history this team has created, and yet another reminder of the self-preservation required to keep writing new chapters like this. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, 28 Jan. 2024 See More

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

circa 1614, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of self-preservation was circa 1614

Dictionary Entries Near self-preservation

Cite this Entry

“Self-preservation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: the keeping of oneself from destruction or harm
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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