[self-in-ter-ist, -trist, self-]


regard for one's own interest or advantage, especially with disregard for others.
personal interest or advantage.

Origin of self-interest

First recorded in 1640–50
Related formsself-in·ter·est·ed, adjectiveself-in·ter·est·ed·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Historical Examples of self-interest

British Dictionary definitions for self-interest



one's personal interest or advantage
the act or an instance of pursuing one's own interest
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"]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper