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[self-help, self-] /ˌsɛlfˈhɛlp, ˈsɛlf-/
the act of providing for or helping or the ability to provide for or help oneself without assistance from others.
Law. the act or right of remedying a wrong, without resorting to legal proceedings.
the acquiring of information or the solving of one's problems, especially those of a psychological nature, without the direct supervision of professionals or experts, as by independent reading or by joining or forming lay groups that are devoted to one's interests or goals.
of or relating to a book, article, home study course, or the like, offering an individual information or counseling intended to be personally beneficial or profitable:
self-help books on overcoming shyness.
Origin of self-help
Related forms
self-helper, noun
self-helpful, self-helping, adjective
self-helpfulness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for self-help
  • Most of those who change their problem drinking do so without treatment of any kind, including self-help groups.
  • self-help and support groups also play a prominent role in recovery for many people who stutter.
  • Journalists unconstrained by research protocols churn out self-help books that focus on select variables that interest them.
  • Books on leadership, even serious ones, still get shelved with self-help books in many bookstores.
  • There are all these self-help books around that say if you do these five things, you'll be a great leader.
  • Explain how work and loans differ from grant aid, if these forms of self-help are described in the calculator's results.
  • self-help books often emphasize the importance of time management.
  • His attacks on self-help programs are unwarranted, immature and unnecessary.
  • But a new study suggests that despite its popularity, this particular brand of self-help may backfire badly.
  • Go to the bookstore and compare the self-help section to the science and/or nature sections.
British Dictionary definitions for self-help


the act or state of providing the means to help oneself without relying on the assistance of others
  1. the practice of solving one's problems by joining or forming a group designed to help those suffering from a particular problem
  2. (as modifier): a self-help group
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-help

1831, from self- + help (n.). Apparently coined by Carlyle. British Self-Help Emigration Society is attested from 1887.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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