Informal. a person who begins work or undertakes a project on his or her own initiative, without needing to be told or encouraged to do so.

Origin of self-starter

First recorded in 1890–95
Related formsself-start·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for self-starter

Contemporary Examples of self-starter

  • Enough of your threatening to be a self-starter; now marks a turning point when you either do it or shut it.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Stars Predict Your Week

    Starsky + Cox

    September 24, 2011

Historical Examples of self-starter

  • When I came out my car refused to go; the self-starter appears to have gone on a strike.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • In haste they scrambled aboard, and pressed the self-starter on the engine.

  • On the level Bud went into neutral and pressed the self-starter with a pessimistic deliberation.

    Cabin Fever

    B. M. Bower

  • The paper was put away at once, and with a whirr from the self-starter the motor throbbed.

    The Golf Course Mystery

    Chester K. Steele

  • Ed had been the first to reach the structure, and, quickly switching on the self-starter, had run the machine out.

British Dictionary definitions for self-starter



the former name for a starter (def. 2)
a person who is strongly motivated and shows initiative, esp at work
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-starter

1894, of engines, 1960, of persons (especially workers), from self- + starter. Self-starting (adj.), of motors, is attested from 1866.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper