See more synonyms for self-starter on
  1. starter(def 3).
  2. 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. 2018

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

  • Doc pushed the self-starter; there came a click, a low humming.

    The Dark Star

    Robert W. Chambers

  • Mr. Bill asked tenderly, as he put his finger on the self-starter.

    The Amazing Inheritance

    Frances R. Sterrett

  • "Six cylinder, self-starter," continued Sam with increasing enthusiasm.

    The Major

    Ralph Connor

  • "Self-starter," echoed Joe, going off into a series of choking chuckles.

    The Major

    Ralph Connor

  • Mamise saw that most of the employees were employees because they lacked the self-starter of ambition.

    The Cup of Fury

    Rupert Hughes

British Dictionary definitions for self-starter


  1. the former name for a starter (def. 2)
  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