from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The total, essential, or particular being of a person; the individual: "An actor's instrument is the self” ( Joan Juliet Buck).
  • n. The essential qualities distinguishing one person from another; individuality: "He would walk a little first along the southern walls, shed his European self, fully enter this world” ( Howard Kaplan).
  • n. One's consciousness of one's own being or identity; the ego: "For some of us, the self's natural doubts are given in mesmerizing amplification by way of critics' negative assessments of our writing” ( Joyce Carol Oates).
  • n. One's own interests, welfare, or advantage: thinking of self alone.
  • n. Immunology That which the immune system identifies as belonging to the body: tissues no longer recognized as self.
  • pro. Myself, yourself, himself, or herself: a living wage for self and family.
  • adj. Of the same character throughout.
  • adj. Of the same material as the article with which it is used: a dress with a self belt.
  • adj. Obsolete Same or identical.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • pro. Himself, herself, itself, themselves; that specific (person mentioned).
  • pro. Myself.
  • n. An individual person as the object of his own reflective consciousness.
  • adj. same

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Same; particular; very; identical.
  • adj. Having its own or a single nature or character, as in color, composition, etc., without addition or change; unmixed.
  • n. The individual as the object of his own reflective consciousness; the man viewed by his own cognition as the subject of all his mental phenomena, the agent in his own activities, the subject of his own feelings, and the possessor of capacities and character; a person as a distinct individual; a being regarded as having personality.
  • n. Hence, personal interest, or love of private interest; selfishness.
  • n. Personification; embodiment.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Same; identical; very same; very.
  • Own; personal.
  • Single; simple; plain; unmixed with any other: particularly noting colors: as, self-colored.
  • A pronominal element affixed to certain personal pronouns and pronominal adjectives to express emphasis or distinction, or to denote a reflexive use.
  • n. A person in his relations to that very same person. Self differs from ego as being always relative to a particular individual, and as referring to that person in all his relations to himself and not merely as given in consciousness.
  • n. A thing or class of things, or an attribute or other abstraction, considered as precisely distinguished from all others: as, the separation of church and state is urged in the interest of religion's self.
  • n. Personal interest and benefit; one's own private advantage.
  • n. In horticulture, a flower with its natural plain color; a self-colored flower, as distinguished from one which has become “rectified” or variegated. Compare self-colored.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person considered as a unique individual
  • n. your consciousness of your own identity
  • adj. (used as a combining form) relating to--of or by or to or from or for--the self


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, selfsame, from Old English; see s(w)e- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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").



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  • (Have you read any continental philosophy? Otherwise I'd just recommend herself or yourself.)

    April 3, 2012

  • Constitutive Other?

    April 3, 2012

  • I am looking for a word, analogous to "self", that refers to any other person. I am now using "other" but that is too general because it is not specific to another person; it can refer to another thing.

    April 3, 2012

  • On his death bed, with his final breath,one man said: "I have but one regret concerning my life: I regret each and ever time that I thought about myself, or said "I." The passion of my life was to see for myself the nature of Life, and yet by my useless thinking about myself, I blinded myself." And with those comments, his body sagged, his eyes opened wide, and his soul sailed home to the silent land of "No-Self." --Jan Cox

    January 23, 2007