[ self ]
See synonyms for: selfselves on

noun,plural selves [selvz]. /sɛlvz/.
  1. a person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one's own self.

  2. a person's nature, character, etc.: his better self.

  1. personal interest.

  2. Philosophy.

    • the ego; that which knows, remembers, desires, suffers, etc., as contrasted with that known, remembered, etc.

    • the uniting principle, as a soul, underlying all subjective experience.

  1. being the same throughout, as a color; uniform.

  2. being of one piece with or the same material as the rest: drapes with a self lining.

  1. Immunology. the natural constituents of the body, which are normally not subject to attack by components of the immune system (contrasted with nonself).

  2. Obsolete. same.

pronoun,plural selves.
  1. myself, himself, herself, etc.: to make a check payable to self.

verb (used with or without object)
  1. to self-pollinate.

Origin of self

First recorded before900; Middle English; Old English self, selfa; cognate with Dutch zelf, German selb-, Old Norse sjalfr, Gothic silba; akin to Irish féin, Latin suī, sē

Other definitions for self- (2 of 2)


  1. a combining form of self and variously used with the meanings “of the self” (self-analysis) and “by oneself or itself” (self-appointed); and with the meanings “to, with, toward, for, on, in oneself” (self-complacent), “inherent in oneself or itself” (self-explanatory), “independent” (self-government), and “automatic” (self-operating). Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use self in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for self (1 of 2)


/ (sɛlf) /

nounplural selves (sɛlvz)
  1. the distinct individuality or identity of a person or thing

  2. a person's usual or typical bodily make-up or personal characteristics: she looked her old self again

  1. good self or good selves rare a polite way of referring to or addressing a person (or persons), used following your, his, her, or their

  2. one's own welfare or interests: he only thinks of self

  3. an individual's consciousness of his own identity or being

  4. the self philosophy that which is essential to an individual, esp the mind or soul in Cartesian metaphysics; the ego

  5. a bird, animal, etc, that is a single colour throughout, esp a self-coloured pigeon

  1. not standard myself, yourself, etc: seats for self and wife

  1. of the same colour or material: a dress with a self belt See also self-coloured

  2. obsolete the same

Origin of self

Old English seolf; related to Old Norse sjālfr, Gothic silba, Old High German selb

British Dictionary definitions for self- (2 of 2)


combining form
  1. of oneself or itself: self-defence; self-rule

  2. by, to, in, due to, for, or from the self: self-employed; self-inflicted; self-respect

  1. automatic or automatically: self-propelled

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