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[self-di-tur-muh-ney-shuh n, self-] /ˈsɛlf dɪˌtɜr məˈneɪ ʃən, ˌsɛlf-/
determination by oneself or itself, without outside influence.
freedom to live as one chooses, or to act or decide without consulting another or others.
the determining by the people of the form their government shall have, without reference to the wishes of any other nation, especially by people of a territory or former colony.
Origin of self-determination
1670-80; 1915-20 for def 3
Related forms
self-determined, adjective
self-determining, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for self-determination
  • Everyone should have the right to self-determination, whether or not that choice agrees with the prevailing culture.
  • Indeed, self-determination, and the gratification of the ego are major lures of academic science.
  • Their friends oppose strong central government and prefer both local self-determination and individual rights.
  • Watch them carefully as they struggle to retain the good old days of self-serving, self-deceiving, self-determination.
  • It also helps when this self-determination is recognized by the high-level powers that be.
  • The appeal called for governments to recognize and protect indigenous peoples' right to land ownership and to self-determination.
  • And it starts with the recognition of two basic human rights: to land and to self-determination.
  • Others argue that the right of all peoples to self-determination must be allowed to hold good.
  • The right of all peoples to self-determination generally holds good across the globe.
  • In an era of self-determination sales of territory have come to seem anachronistic.
British Dictionary definitions for self-determination


the power or ability to make a decision for oneself without influence from outside
the right of a nation or people to determine its own form of government without influence from outside
Derived Forms
self-determined, adjective
self-determining, adjective
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
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Word Origin and History for self-determination

1680s, "determination of mind," from self- + determination. Political sense is attested from 1911, popularized by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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