What word does your mother always say?


[sel-fish] /ˈsɛl fɪʃ/
devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself:
selfish motives.
Origin of selfish
1630-40; self + -ish1
Related forms
selfishly, adverb
selfishness, noun
1. self-interested, self-seeking, egoistic; illiberal, parsimonious, stingy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for selfish
  • There are selfish reasons for this-you don't want to be beaten up or thrown in jail.
  • Praise everything he says or does no matter how solipsistic or selfish.
  • He's empathetic yet selfish, sweet and uncalculating yet infuriating.
  • How selfish of an individual to make such a comment.
  • It is a spirit contracted in its views, selfish in its objects.
  • Nothing shows selfish want of consideration more than being habitually late for dinner.
  • They would accept hardships in recompense for having been selfish and lazy.
  • The budgetary backsliding is in fact a symptom of a profound policy shift toward selfish and short-sighted policies.
  • What a silly, selfish, ridiculous mistake to have made.
  • But to me the only selfish people are the ones that drove them to it.
British Dictionary definitions for selfish


chiefly concerned with one's own interest, advantage, etc, esp to the total exclusion of the interests of others
relating to or characterized by self-interest
Derived Forms
selfishly, adverb
selfishness, noun
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for selfish

1630s, from self- + -ish. Said in Hacket's life of Archbishop Williams (1693) to have been coined by Presbyterians. In the 17c., synonyms included self-seeking (1620s), self-ended and self-ful.

Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs. [Richard Dawkins, "The Selfish Gene," 1976]
Related: Selfishly; selfishness. Cf. similar formations in German selbstisch, Swedish sjelfvisk, Danish selvisk.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for selfish

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for selfish

Scrabble Words With Friends