[ self-help, self- ]
/ ˌsɛlfˈhɛlp, ˈsɛlf- /


the act of providing for or helping or the ability to provide for or help oneself without assistance from others.
Law. the act or right of remedying a wrong, without resorting to legal proceedings.
the acquiring of information or the solving of one's problems, especially those of a psychological nature, without the direct supervision of professionals or experts, as by independent reading or by joining or forming lay groups that are devoted to one's interests or goals.


of or relating to a book, article, home study course, or the like, offering an individual information or counseling intended to be personally beneficial or profitable: self-help books on overcoming shyness.

Origin of self-help

First recorded in 1825–35
Related formsself-help·er, nounself-help·ful, self-help·ing, adjectiveself-help·ful·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for self-help

British Dictionary definitions for self-help



the act or state of providing the means to help oneself without relying on the assistance of others
  1. the practice of solving one's problems by joining or forming a group designed to help those suffering from a particular problem
  2. (as modifier)a self-help group
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

Word Origin and History for self-help



1831, from self- + help (n.). Apparently coined by Carlyle. British Self-Help Emigration Society is attested from 1887.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper