self

1 of 5

noun

ˈself How to pronounce self (audio)
 Southern also  ˈsef
plural selves ˈselvz How to pronounce self (audio)
 Southern also  ˈsevz
1
a(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
4
a
: 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

2 of 5

pronoun

: myself, himself, herself
a check payable to self

self

3 of 5

adjective

1
a
: 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

4 of 5

verb

selfed; selfing; selfs

transitive verb

1
2
: to pollinate with pollen from the same flower or plant

intransitive verb

: to undergo self-pollination

self-

5 of 5

combining form

1
a
: oneself or itself
self-supporting
b
: of oneself or itself
self-abasement
c
: by oneself or itself
self-propelled
self-acting
2
a
: 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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Instinctively, our rational self interest will say yes. Shane Snow, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Set in two time periods, the series follows a group of girls who survive a plane crash in the desolate wilderness and their later adult selves who are forced to grapple with their lasting trauma. Keith Langston, Peoplemag, 19 Feb. 2024 There are casually racist references about the cook on the fishing boat, but also serious lessons about self reliance, maturation and comradeship. Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, 7 Feb. 2024 Find it on Amazon Show Your Love with Kissing Kitty Mugs Share a special smooch between your kitty selves. Kristi Arnold, Rolling Stone, 7 Feb. 2024 The older Elliott gives her younger self a fair share of advice on better appreciating her family members, while the teenager teaches the 39-year-old Elliott to relinquish a bit of control. Sonia Rao, Washington Post, 27 Jan. 2024 Mental health is one of those keys to being your best self. Okla Jones, Essence, 25 Jan. 2024 Over the years, my father sanded off the old dark finish, and one by one, the pieces reappeared in my room as lighter versions of their former selves. Marni Jameson, The Mercury News, 25 Jan. 2024 The point is that when they’re removed from the protection of their trucks or their screens, people are no longer their hardest, most closed selves. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 25 Jan. 2024
Adjective
The women's brains showed a clear divide between the areas of the brain activated by self and non-self MHCs. Breanna Draxler, Discover Magazine, 24 Jan. 2013 An inspector’s notes also stated there were cardboard containers on the floor, a non-self closing restroom door, no training documentation for the staff. Pam McLoughlin, Hartford Courant, 28 Feb. 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near self

Cite this Entry

“Self.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/self. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

self

1 of 3 pronoun
ˈself How to pronounce self (audio)
 Southern also  ˈsef
: myself sense 1, himself, herself
check that can be paid to self
a room for self, son, and daughter

self

2 of 3 noun
ˈself
plural selves
ˈselvz,
 Southern also  ˈsevz
1
: a person thought of as an individual apart from everyone else
2
: a particular side of a person's disposition
your better self
3
: personal interest
without thought of self

self-

3 of 3 combining form
1
a
: oneself or itself
self-pitying
b
: of oneself or itself
self-destructive
self-sacrifice
c
: by oneself or itself
self-made
self-propelled
2
a
: to, with, for, or toward oneself or itself
self-addressed
b
: of or in oneself or itself
self-evident
c
: from or by means of oneself or itself
self-fertile

Medical Definition

self

noun
plural selves ˈselvz How to pronounce self (audio)
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

More from Merriam-Webster on self

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