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
Milano, 2015, by Anh Duong, is her self portrait wearing Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda couture. As Told To Vogue, Vogue, 5 Apr. 2024 That choice helped the movie [become] its truest self. Suzy Exposito, Vogue, 26 Mar. 2024 So the intimacy of a video of the future queen wearing jeans and a sweater, sitting on a garden bench talking about her own illness, may look like the natural thing to do to our 21st-century selves. Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 24 Mar. 2024 The journey is dramatized with interwoven, non-linear flashbacks, centering around their past teen selves (John Cardoza and Jordan Tyson) and then, nearly a decade later, their young-adults years (Ryan Vasquez and Joy Woods). Frank Rizzo, Variety, 15 Mar. 2024 Vernon knows that some of her clients use perfume as a tool to embody their truest self, and others use it like playing dress-up, sharing a different iteration of their identity. Alice Wolfe, Allure, 15 Mar. 2024 Because David Lynch’s perfect pants, much like David Lynch’s perfect self, do not and cannot exist. Jonah Weiner, New York Times, 3 Mar. 2024 Paul’s sister Alia only appears as a fetus (albeit one awakened to universal consciousness) and briefly as a vision of her older self in a dream, portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy. Christian Holub, EW.com, 2 Mar. 2024 Tilly, 22, tells PEOPLE about the similarities between her younger self and Oscar. Sabrina Weiss, Peoplemag, 1 Mar. 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

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 20 Apr. 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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