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2017 Word of the Year

selfish

[sel-fish] /ˈsɛl fɪʃ/
adjective
1.
devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
2.
characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself:
selfish motives.
Origin of selfish
1630-1640
First recorded in 1630-40; self + -ish1
Related forms
selfishly, adverb
selfishness, noun
Synonyms
1. self-interested, self-seeking, egoistic; illiberal, parsimonious, stingy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for selfishness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But do try to believe, at the same time, that my own selfishness has been a kindness to you.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • "He is cruel, and the very incarnation of selfishness," he said.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • God had made Amy so that she had less trouble from selfishness than all but a few people.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • In the selfishness of his misery he looked upon this as lack of sympathy with himself.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Ambition, selfishness, and the love of success, were alike his inspiration and his ruin.

British Dictionary definitions for selfishness

selfish

/ˈsɛlfɪʃ/
adjective
1.
chiefly concerned with one's own interest, advantage, etc, esp to the total exclusion of the interests of others
2.
relating to or characterized by self-interest
Derived Forms
selfishly, adverb
selfishness, 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 selfishness

selfish

adj.

1630s, from self- + -ish. Said in Hacket's life of Archbishop Williams (1693) to have been coined by Presbyterians. In the 17c., synonyms included self-seeking (1620s), self-ended and self-ful.

Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs. [Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene," 1976]
Related: Selfishly; selfishness. Cf. similar formations in German selbstisch, Swedish sjelfvisk, Danish selvisk.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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17
18
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