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[self-di-nahy-uh l, self-] /ˈsɛlf dɪˈnaɪ əl, ˌsɛlf-/
the sacrifice of one's own desires; unselfishness.
an act or instance of restraining or curbing one's desires:
To reduce, one has to practice self-denial at the dinner table.
Origin of self-denial
First recorded in 1635-45
Related forms
self-denying, adjective
self-denyingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for self-denying
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Love should be prepared to give as well as to receive—to be self-denying when self-denial is required of it.

  • He wonders if there is such a thing as her being too sensible, too self-denying!

    Floyd Grandon's Honor Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • We do not learn for learning's sake, we are not self-denying for the sake of self-denial, but all is for fuller and richer living.

    From the Easy Chair, series 3 George William Curtis
  • Had they ever reflected on the heroism of women, on their self-denying, unrewarded labour?

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • They have such an eatable look that the most self-denying stranger can hardly keep his hands off.

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • Alchemists were, certainly, men of pure lives, self-denying and humble.

    A Day's Ride Charles James Lever
  • Such are the self-denying, humble, and glorious achievements of the successors of John Howard!

  • I hate all kind of strictness, and duty, and self-denying, and that kind of thing.

    Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope
  • To be prudent and self-denying is not always an exhilarating process for sweet and twenty.

    The Independence of Claire Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
British Dictionary definitions for self-denying


the denial or sacrifice of one's own desires
Derived Forms
self-denying, adjective
self-denyingly, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for self-denying



1640s, from self- + denial.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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