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[self-in-ter-ist, -trist, self-] /ˌsɛlfˈɪn tər ɪst, -trɪst, ˈsɛlf-/
regard for one's own interest or advantage, especially with disregard for others.
personal interest or advantage.
Origin of self-interest
First recorded in 1640-50
Related forms
self-interested, adjective
self-interestedness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for self-interest
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Wayne, Arliss, and the rest of the administration had counted on self-interest holding most of the cops loyal to them.

    Police Your Planet Lester del Rey
  • self-interest, as well as honor, demand that he should have this.

    America First Various
  • Sara was mine; she had given herself to me out of pure passion, without any shadow of self-interest.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • The two great powers in the affairs of the world are sentiment and self-interest.

    The Hero William Somerset Maugham
  • Local and self-interest were now to dominate to a great extent Virginia's actions.

British Dictionary definitions for self-interest


one's personal interest or advantage
the act or an instance of pursuing one's own interest
Derived Forms
self-interested, adjective
self-interestedness, noun
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-interest

also self interest, 1640s, from self- + interest (n.). Related: Self-interested.

[Self-interest] is a doctrine not very lofty, but clear and sure. It does not seek to attain great objects; but it attains those it aims for without too much effort. ... [It] does not produce great devotion; but it suggests little sacrifices each day; by itself it cannot make a man virtuous; but it forms a multitude of citizens who are regulated, temperate, moderate, farsighted, masters of themselves; and if it does not lead directly to virtue through the will, it brings them near to it insensibly through habits. [Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in America"]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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