[ self-ab-sawrbd, -zawrbd, self- ]
/ ˈsɛlf æbˈsɔrbd, -ˈzɔrbd, ˌsɛlf- /
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preoccupied with one's thoughts, interests, etc.
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Origin of self-absorbed

First recorded in 1840–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does self-absorbed mean?

Self-absorbed is an adjective used to describe a person who’s preoccupied with their own wants and needs.

When used in this term, the word absorbed means deeply preoccupied or totally wrapped up in something—in this case, oneself.

Self-absorbed is almost always used negatively. When you call people self-absorbed, it usually means you think they only think about and care about themselves.

The term is typically used to describe a person’s overall personality (as opposed to their behavior on a certain day or at a certain time).

The state of being self-absorbed is called self-absorption (notice how the b becomes a p in the noun absorption).

Example: My therapist helped me to see how self-absorbed I was, only ever thinking about myself and making everything about me.

Where does self-absorbed come from?

The first records of the term self-absorbed come from the 1800s. The term is formed in the same way as its very close synonym self-centered. People who are self-centered are centered on themselves, and people who are self-absorbed are completely absorbed (totally preoccupied) with themselves.

We call people self-absorbed when it seems like they’re incapable of thinking of anything other than themselves. People who are self-absorbed will always find a way to talk about themselves, no matter what the topic of conversation is. When you try to talk to a self-absorbed person about your problems, they end up making everything about them.

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What are some other forms related to self-absorbed?

What are some synonyms for self-absorbed?

What are some words that share a root or word element with self-absorbed

What are some words that often get used in discussing self-absorbed?


How is self-absorbed used in real life?

Self-absorbed is almost always used negatively as a way to criticize people who only seem to be interested in themselves and their own needs.



Try using self-absorbed!

Which of the following words would NOT be used to describe someone who’s considered self-absorbed?

A. selfless
B. narcissistic
C. egotistical
D. vain

How to use self-absorbed in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for self-absorbed


preoccupied with one's own thoughts, emotions, life, etc
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