[self-ri-lahy-uh ns, self-]


reliance on oneself or one's own powers, resources, etc.

Origin of self-reliance

First recorded in 1825–35 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for self-reliance

Contemporary Examples of self-reliance

Historical Examples of self-reliance

  • Yes--I was returned a man, with the pride and the self-reliance and the heart of a man.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will.

    Essays, First Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • My niece trusts thee, but she is but a girl, with all her self-reliance.

    Against Odds

    Lawrence L. Lynch

  • It was there I learned the virtue of self-reliance,—the only real independence.

    Confessions Of Con Cregan

    Charles James Lever

  • He was sunburnt; but his countenance was noble and manly, and marked with self-reliance.

    Winning His Way

    Charles Carleton Coffin

British Dictionary definitions for self-reliance



reliance on one's own abilities, decisions, etc
Derived Formsself-reliant, adjectiveself-reliantly, adverb
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-reliance

1883, from self- + reliance. First recorded in J.S. Mill.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

self-reliance in Culture


(1841) An essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson that advises the reader to “Trust thyself” and argues that “whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.” It is the source of several well-known epigrams, such as “To be great is to be misunderstood” and “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.