• synonyms


[self-in-ter-ist, -trist, self-]
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  1. regard for one's own interest or advantage, especially with disregard for others.
  2. personal interest or advantage.
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Origin of self-interest

First recorded in 1640–50
Related formsself-in·ter·est·ed, adjectiveself-in·ter·est·ed·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for self-interest

selfishness, self-absorption, arrogance, narcissism, self-confidence, egotism, self-possession, self-regard, egomania, presumption, self-love, boasting, overconfidence, vainglory, pride, gasconade, assurance, haughtiness, ostentation, vanity

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Contemporary Examples of self-interest

Historical Examples of self-interest

British Dictionary definitions for self-interest


  1. one's personal interest or advantage
  2. the act or an instance of pursuing one's own interest
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Derived Formsself-interested, adjectiveself-interestedness, 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

Word Origin and History for self-interest


also self interest, 1640s, from self- + interest (n.). Related: Self-interested.

[Self-interest] is a doctrine not very lofty, but clear and sure. It does not seek to attain great objects; but it attains those it aims for without too much effort. ... [It] does not produce great devotion; but it suggests little sacrifices each day; by itself it cannot make a man virtuous; but it forms a multitude of citizens who are regulated, temperate, moderate, farsighted, masters of themselves; and if it does not lead directly to virtue through the will, it brings them near to it insensibly through habits. [Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in America"]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper