• Self


    • IPA: /sÉ›lf/
    • Rhymes: -É›lf


    From Middle English self, silf, sulf, from Old English self, seolf, sylf ("same, self, very, own"), from Proto-Germanic *selbaz ("self"), from Proto-Indo-European *selbʰ- ("one's own"), from Proto-Indo-European *s(w)e- ("separate, apart"). Cognate with Scots self ("self"), West Frisian self ("self"), Dutch zelf ("self"), Low German sulv ("self"), German selbst ("self"), Danish selv ("self"), Icelandic sjálfur ("self"). Possibly related to Albanian thelb ("core, center, heart").

    Full definition of self



    1. (obsolete) Himself, herself, itself, themselves; that specific (person mentioned).This argument was put forward by the defendant self.
    2. (commercial or humorous) Myself.I made out a cheque, payable to self, which cheered me up somewhat.



    (plural selves or selfs)
    1. The subject of one's own experience of phenomena: perception, emotions, thoughts...
    2. An individual person as the object of his own reflective consciousness (plural selves).
      • Sir W. HamiltonThe self, the I, is recognized in every act of intelligence as the subject to which that act belongs. It is I that perceive, I that imagine, I that remember, I that attend, I that compare, I that feel, I that will, I that am conscious.
      • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, The Mirror and the Lamp Chapter 16, The preposterous altruism too!...Resist not evil. It is an insane immolation of self—as bad intrinsically as fakirs stabbing themselves or anchorites warping their spines in caves scarcely large enough for a fair-sized dog.
      • 2013, Katrina G. Claw, Rapid Evolution in Eggs and Sperm, In plants, the ability to recognize self from nonself plays an important role in fertilization, because self-fertilization will result in less diverse offspring than fertilization with pollen from another individual.
    3. (botany) A seedling produced by self-pollination (plural selfs).

    Derived terms


    1. (botany) To fertilise by the same individual; to self-fertilise or self-pollinate.
    2. (botany) To fertilise by the same strain; to inbreed.




    1. (obsolete) same
      • 1605, William Shakespeare, King Lear, I.i:I am made of that self mettle as my sister.
      • Sir Walter Raleighon these self hills
      • DrydenAt that self moment enters Palamon.


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