Prefix SELF- (40 Vocabulary Words, Meaning, Examples)

All you need to know about using the prefix SELF in compound words is here. I collected these words from different sources and listed them here with definitions and natural example sentences. Quickly increase your English vocabulary.

The prefix self- means to, of, or by one’s self.

Self-taught means learning by one’s self rather than being taught by someone else.
A self-portarit means a painting or picture that one made of themselves.

I organized these words into grammar categories. Adjective – Noun – Verb/Adverb. This post can help you master this prefix. Learn some Idioms with self too, keep reading.

Self – Noun

self noun [countable, usually singular] the type of person you are, especially the way you normally behave, look or feel

“I’m happy to see you looking like your old self again.”

self noun OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com 

A Shell Of (Someone’s Or Something’s) Former Self

– A person, group, place, etc., that has become dramatically less healthy, or strong, often following some traumatic event or negative circumstances.

“I saw Herry a few days ago. He’s a shell of his former self after the illness.”

Self – Prefix (Combining Form)

self- combining form 

of, to or by yourself or itself
“My ex- was very attractive but also self-centered. That’s why we broke up.”

You’re so self-centered! I can’t take it anymore.

self combining form OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com 

Adjectives with SELF-

selfish caring only about yourself rather than about other people

  • Sharing with others is important. No one likes a selfish person.

Learn more about the suffix -ISH at my blog post here:
Your complete guide to the Suffix -ISH (Quiz/worksheet)

selfless thinking more about the needs, happiness, etc. of other people than about your own

  • Politicians should live a life of selfless service to the people who voted for them. 

Learn more about the suffix -LESS at my blog post here:
79 Common Adjectives with the Suffix -less (PDF download)

self-absorbed only thinking about or interested in yourself

  • Our local politicians don’t care enough about the community, they’re too self-absorbed to care about anyone else. 

self-addressed ​if an envelope is self-addressed, somebody has written their own address on it

  • Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope in your letter and we will send you back some more information. (This is not used much anymore in the age of digital communication.)

self-adhesive covered on one side with a sticky substance so that it can be stuck to something without the use of glue, etc.

  • My office is too cheap to buy self-adhesive envelopes. I hate licking envelopes to seal them, it tastes terrible. 
The glue on these envelopes tastes terrible!

self-aware having or showing knowledge and understanding of your own character

  • Melissa is very mature and self-aware for her age. 

self-centered tending to think only about yourself and not thinking about the needs or feelings of other people

  • My ex- was very attractive but also self-centered. That’s why we broke up. 

self-confident ​having confidence in yourself and your abilities

A good leader is a confident leader.
  • She was a capable, self-confident leader and people really liked her. 

self-conscious nervous or embarrassed about your appearance or what other people think of you

  • The t-shirt is a little bit too tight for me. I’m a bit self-conscious about my weight right now. 

self-contained not needing or depending on other people

  • His dream was to buy some farmland out of the country and live a completely self-contained life. 

SCUBA is an acronym (a word formed from the first letters of the words that make up the name of something) It stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. 

self-driving (of a vehicle) that has the technology to drive itself without a person in control

  • I’m excited by the idea of self-driving cars, but I’m also a little bit nervous. 

self-employed working for yourself and not employed by a company, etc.

  • The downside of being self-employed is the stress, the upside is that I don’t have a boss looking over my shoulder. 

self-explanatory ​easy to understand and not needing any more explanation

  • We need to hire more staff in the warehouse. I think the reasons are self-explanatory

self-fulfilling a self-fulfilling prophecy is one that becomes true because people expect it to be true and behave in a way that will make it happen

  • If you expect the class to be boring, you won’t enjoy it or give it your full attention. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, you need to go into class feeling excited about what you can learn. 

self-governing (of a country or an organization) governed or controlled by its own people or members, not by others

  • The country became independent in 1937 and they were self-governing just two years later. 

self-help designed to help people solve their problems for themselves, rather than depending on other people for help

  • I read many self-help books after University. 

self-made having become rich and successful through your own hard work rather than having had money given to you

  • James was a self-made millionaire, he was very proud of the fact that he worked hard his whole life without any help. 

self-promotion the activity of making people notice you and your abilities, especially in a way that annoys other people

  • Real estate agents often put their names and pictures on t-shirts, hats, and even coffee mugs. They are the kings of self-promotion.

self-service a self-service shop, restaurant, etc. is one in which customers serve themselves and then pay for the goods

  • I used to go to full-service gas stations until the price of gas became too high. Now I only go to self-service stations, it’s cheaper.

self-sufficient able to do or produce everything that you need without the help of other people

  • The small community’s goal was to become energy self-sufficient in the next 3 years. 

self-taught – having learned something by reading books, etc., rather than by somebody teaching you

  • Michael is a good guitar player. I was surprised to learn that he’s completely self-taught

Self-praise is no praise (at all)

– Praise of oneself is worthless or suspect, you cannot be objective of your own work or accomplishments. SOURCE

Don’t tell people how good you are, let your happy customers tell people. Self-praise is no praise.

Nouns with SELF-

selfie a photo of yourself that you take, typically with a smartphone or webcam

  • I’m taking a trip to Hollywood next month, and I want to take a selfie with someone famous during my trip. 

selfishness ​the fact of caring only about yourself rather than about other people

  • I was shocked by the amount of selfishness I saw at the meeting. It seems like no one cared about anyone but themselves. 

Learn more about the suffix -NESS at my blog post here:
The suffix ~NESS – Increase Your Vocabulary Fast (Free PDF)

selflessness the quality of thinking more about the needs, happiness, etc. of other people than about your own

  • Tina’s selflessness should be an example to us all. 

self-build the building of homes by their owners; a home that is built in this way

  • My dad, two of his brothers. and a friend from work put together a self-build cottage during the summer. It looks amazing and I can’t wait to use it with my family. 

self-care the act of caring for yourself, for example by eating and sleeping well, taking exercise and getting help so that you do not become ill

  • Medical staff have difficult and stressful jobs sometimes. Taking time for self-care is very important for people working in hospitals and trauma Centers. 

self-control the ability to remain calm and not show your emotions even though you are feeling angry, excited, etc.

  • Adam is a good player but he gets excited easily and loses Focus. If he showed a little more self-control he could be a real leader on this team. 

self-denial ​the act of not having or doing the things you like, either because you do not have enough money, or for moral or religious reasons

  • Many people don’t drink alcohol during sober October. This is a positive form of self-denial that can improve your health. 
I will not drink alcohol all month.

self-doubt the feeling that you are not good enough

  • Garrett was always troubled by worry and thoughts of self-doubt. 

self-esteem a feeling of being happy with your own character and abilities

  • Participating in sports and team competitions can help children’s self-esteem when they are young. 

self-expression the expression of your thoughts or feelings, especially through activities such as writing, painting, dancing, etc.

  • Fashion, music, and dance are all forms of self-expression

self-fulfillment the feeling of being happy and satisfied that you have everything you want or need

  • If you are happy with the simple things in life then self-fulfillment is incredibly easy to achieve. 

self-harm ​the practice of deliberately injuring yourself, for example by cutting yourself, as a way to express or try to deal with feeling very unhappy or worried

  • Self-harm is a sign of deeper issues that need to be carefully explored. 

self-image the opinion or idea you have of yourself, especially of your appearance or abilities

  • Exercise improves your health and fitness levels, plus it can be really good for your self-image.

self-pity a feeling of sadness for yourself, especially because of something unpleasant or unfair that has happened to you

  • You need to cut all the self-pity and start working on improving your life. 

self-portrait a painting, etc. that you do of yourself

  • The artist’s most famous painting is a self-portrait from when he was 43 years old. 
The self-portrait is also his most valuable painting.

self-respect a feeling of being proud of yourself and that what you do, say, etc. is right and good

  • Aaron was a total idiot at the party last night. Anyone who acts like that must not have any self-respect.

self-rule the governing of a country or an area by its own people

  • The country achieved independence and self-rule after the occupying forces were pushed out. 

Verbs and Adverbs with SELF-

selfishly adverb in a way that shows that you care only about yourself rather than about other people

  • I watched as Ian selfishly took 4 slices of pizza before some of us even had a chance to get one. 

selflessly adverb in a way that shows that you are thinking more about the needs, happiness, etc. of other people than about your own

  • Travis worked selfishly to get the homeless shelter built on schedule. 

self-harm verb to deliberately injure yourself, for example by cutting yourself, as a way to express or try to deal with feeling very unhappy or worried

  • The doctors were worried because the patient was self-harming every week. 

self-isolate verb to avoid contact with other people in order to prevent the spread of infection

SYNONYM self-quarantine

  • I was in close contact with the patient so I needed to self-isolate for 6 days to make sure I was infected. 

Can you think of any words that begin with self that I left out of my list? Tell me in the comments.

Find more GREAT Prefix/Suffix posts below!

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