Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of self

before 900; Middle English; Old English self, selfa; cognate with Dutch zelf,German selb-,Old Norse sjalfr,Gothic silba

Other definitions for self (2 of 2)


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).
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does self- mean?

Self– is a combining form used like a prefix meaning “self,” in a variety of senses. Often, it is used to mean “of the self,” “independent,” or “automatic.” In many instances, it is separated from the second element with a hyphen, as in self-government. It is often used in a variety of everyday and technical terms.

Self– comes from Old English self, meaning “self.”

Examples of self-

One example of a term that you have likely encountered that features the form self– is selfish, “devoted to or caring only for oneself.”

We know self– means “self,” and the ish portion of the word means “inclined or tending to,” from Old English –isc. Selfish literally means to “inclined or tending to the self.”

What are some words that use the combining form self-?

What are some other forms that self– may be commonly confused with?

Break it down!

The suffix dom means “domain.” With this in mind, what does selfdom mean?

How to use self in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for self (1 of 2)

/ (sɛlf) /

noun plural selves (sɛlvz)
not standard myself, yourself, etcseats for self and wife
of the same colour or materiala dress with a self belt See also self-coloured
obsolete the same

Word Origin for 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
of oneself or itselfself-defence; self-rule
by, to, in, due to, for, or from the selfself-employed; self-inflicted; self-respect
automatic or automaticallyself-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

Medical definitions for self

[ sĕlf ]

n. pl. selves (sĕlz)
The total, essential, or particular being of a person; the individual.
One's consciousness of one's own being or identity; the ego.
That which the immune system identifies as belonging to the body.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.