[ self-ri-lahy-uhns, self- ]
See synonyms for self-reliance on
  1. reliance on oneself or one's own powers, resources, etc.

Origin of self-reliance

First recorded in 1825–35

Words Nearby self-reliance Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use self-reliance in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for self-reliance


  1. reliance on one's own abilities, decisions, etc

Derived forms of self-reliance

  • self-reliant, adjective
  • self-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

Cultural definitions for “Self-Reliance”


(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.