devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives.

Origin of selfish

First recorded in 1630–40; self + -ish1
Related formsself·ish·ly, adverbself·ish·ness, noun

Synonyms for selfish Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for selfishly

meanly, miserly, cannily, greedily, parsimoniously, stingily

Examples from the Web for selfishly

Contemporary Examples of selfishly

Historical Examples of selfishly

  • Of course poor Isobel was lonely and she and Gyp had selfishly neglected her.


    Jane Abbott

  • "I will not selfishly take you into any more dangers," he said.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

  • It showed Falk's brutality because after all he had selfishly caused him (Hermann) much pain.


    Joseph Conrad

  • The minutes, selfishly thoughtless of all but themselves, fly rapidly.

    Molly Bawn

    Margaret Wolfe Hamilton

  • He had been selfishly consulting his own happiness, his own ease.

    We Two

    Edna Lyall

British Dictionary definitions for selfishly



chiefly concerned with one's own interest, advantage, etc, esp to the total exclusion of the interests of others
relating to or characterized by self-interest
Derived Formsselfishly, adverbselfishness, 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 selfishly



1630s, from self- + -ish. Said in Hacket's life of Archbishop Williams (1693) to have been coined by Presbyterians. In the 17c., synonyms included self-seeking (1620s), self-ended and self-ful.

Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs. [Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene," 1976]

Related: Selfishly; selfishness. Cf. similar formations in German selbstisch, Swedish sjelfvisk, Danish selvisk.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper