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[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.
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Examples from the Web for selfishly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I am so selfishly full of myself and my own concerns, that I seem to think every one else must be full of them too.

    The Haunted Chamber "The Duchess"
  • Of course poor Isobel was lonely and she and Gyp had selfishly neglected her.

    Highacres Jane Abbott
  • Now some consciousness, equally as intangible, suggested to him that she was selfishly selling herself for ease.

    The Landloper Holman Day
  • "I will not selfishly take you into any more dangers," he said.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • "You must remember that Mrs. Wilson must be considered—that what I selfishly want——" He stopped.

    The Narrow House Evelyn Scott
British Dictionary definitions for selfishly


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
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Word Origin and History for selfishly



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
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