self-ref·​er·​ence ˌself-ˈre-fərn(t)s How to pronounce self-reference (audio)
plural self-references
: the act or an instance of referring or alluding to oneself or itself
… their discourse can become dominated by words expressing confidence, like … self-reference that can favour the "royal we" over "I."Peter Garrard
The conventional wisdom was that sitcoms should hit the reset button every week, so as not to confuse or alienate nonregular viewers. But Seinfeld's obsessive self-references earned it the loyal audience that was key to its success …Daniel Bettridge
specifically : reference or allusion by a literary or artistic work to the mental attitudes and creative processes that brought it into existence
Such dumbly resistant objects might seem like arid exercises in postmodern self-reference—photographs about photography, as it were … Andrew Graham-Dixon
self-referential adjective
Also, Lady Gaga's self-referential comment about wardrobe came off way too hammy … Mike Ryan
There's a lot of silly fourth wall breaking, sarcasm and self-referential comedy … Patrick Doyle
self-referentiality noun
… the pretentious and tiresome self-referentiality (as in "Author here. Meaning the real author …") Stephen Marche

Examples of self-reference in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Courtesy of Tiffany & Co. But despite his history with the brand, Williams didn’t self-reference, at least not too literally. José Criales-Unzueta, Vogue, 3 May 2024 Assayas devotees will take some pleasure in its formal fillips and self-references. Guy Lodge, Variety, 17 Feb. 2024 The revival leans into such meta-moments, which lean away from the movie and into a wonderland of Broadway self-reference. Jesse Green, New York Times, 16 Nov. 2023 The humorous self-references bolster the heroines’ believability. Dallas News, 22 Feb. 2023

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

1818, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of self-reference was in 1818

Dictionary Entries Near self-reference

Cite this Entry

“Self-reference.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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