[ thuhm-self, them- ]

  1. Nonstandard. themselves: The kids began laughing at themself.Everyone who got the right answer can congratulate themself.The teacher introduced themself to the class.

  2. a reflexive form of singular they, as used to refer to a nonbinary or gender-nonconforming person: Chris only posts memes that they created themself.

Origin of themself

First recorded in 1350–1400; them + self

usage note For themself

Themself has a long history of use in English as a reflexive pronoun referring back to a plural antecedent ( the right of all citizens to protect themself ) or to a single generic or unspecified antecedent ( someone capable of speaking for themself ). In spite of historical use, in these contexts the pronoun themself is not considered to be standard English. A more acceptable alternative is the plural pronoun themselves , though its use with a singular antecedent is rejected as ungrammatical by many people. The singular antecedent is more commonly paired with the third person singular reflexive himself or herself, as recommended by traditional grammars ( someone capable of speaking for himself ).
However, when themself is being used as part of a set of pronouns (including they, their, and them ) that refer back to a nonbinary or gender-nonconforming individual, it is a grammatical option to express reflexive meaning. Neither plural themselves nor gendered himself or herself completely suffice in this context. The grammaticality of nonbinary singular themself in this paradigm follows logically from the acceptability of singular they in this function: Andi is learning to put themself first, and prioritize their own happiness and mental health. See also they.

Words Nearby themself Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use themself in a sentence

  • It's about two merry, sensible girls who found themself obliged to earn their own living.

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