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themselves

[th uh m-selvz, th em-] /ðəmˈsɛlvz, ˌðɛm-/
plural pronoun
1.
an emphatic form of them or they:
The authors themselves left the theater. The contract was written by the partners themselves.
2.
a reflexive form of they (used as the direct or indirect object of a verb or the object of a preposition):
They washed themselves quickly. The painters gave themselves a week to finish the work. The noisy passengers drew attention to themselves.
3.
(used after an indefinite singular antecedent in place of the definite masculine himself or the definite feminine herself):
No one who ignores the law can call themselves a good citizen.
4.
(used in place of they or them after as, than, or but):
no soldiers braver than themselves; As for the entertainers, everyone got paid but themselves.
5.
their usual, normal, characteristic selves:
After a hot meal and a few hours' rest, they were themselves again.
Origin
1300-1350
1300-50; them + selves; replacing themself, Middle English thamself; see self
Usage note
See myself.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for themselves
  • Drama allows them to distance themselves from painful situations.
  • The incidents themselves are not what generates the debate on my blog.
  • Many animals seem able to treat their illnesses themselves.
  • Dolphins have an ability to recognize and examine themselves in mirrors, scientists say.
  • Billions of years ago, organic chemicals in the primordial soup somehow organized themselves into the first organisms.
  • Various types of boxwood lend themselves to different uses.
  • Snarling relief pitchers see themselves as baseball's meanest breed.
  • Universities are serving themselves here as well, so that they can trumpet how diverse they are.
  • But his followers' desire to segregate themselves is not unusual.
  • Elephants can recognize themselves in mirrors, according to a new study.
British Dictionary definitions for themselves

themselves

/ðəmˈsɛlvz/
pronoun
1.
  1. the reflexive form of they or them
  2. (intensifier) the team themselves voted on it
2.
(preceded by a copula) their normal or usual selves they don't seem themselves any more
3.
(not standard) Also themself. a reflexive form of an indefinite antecedent such as one, whoever, or anybody everyone has to look after themselves
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 themselves

c.1500, standard from 1540s, replacing themself (cf. theirself). Themself returned late 20c. as some writers took to avoiding himself with gender-neutral someone, anyone, etc.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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18
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