[ thuh m-selvz, th em- ]
/ ðəmˈsɛlvz, ˌðɛm- /


an emphatic form of them or they: The authors themselves left the theater. The contract was written by the partners themselves.
a reflexive form of they (used as the direct or indirect object of a verb or the object of a preposition): They washed themselves quickly. The painters gave themselves a week to finish the work. The noisy passengers drew attention to themselves.
(used with a singular indefinite pronoun or singular noun antecedent in place of the definite masculine himself or the definite feminine herself): No one who ignores the law can call themselves a good citizen. How do you help a friend who is harming themselves?
(used in place of they or them after as, than, or but): no soldiers braver than themselves; As for the entertainers, everyone got paid but themselves.
their usual, normal, characteristic selves: After a hot meal and a few hours' rest, they were themselves again.

Origin of themselves

1300–50; them + selves; replacing themself, Middle English thamself; see self

usage note for themselves

See myself, they. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for themselves

British Dictionary definitions for themselves

/ (ðəmˈsɛlvz) /


  1. the reflexive form of they or them
  2. (intensifier)the team themselves voted on it
(preceded by a copula) their normal or usual selvesthey don't seem themselves any more
Also: themself not standard a reflexive form of an indefinite antecedent such as one, whoever, or anybodyeveryone has to look after themselves
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