Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search



From the Old High German pronoun selb, selbo, from Proto-Germanic *selbaz, from Proto-Indo-European *selbʰ- (one's own), from *s(w)e- (separate, apart). Compare Low German sulv, Dutch zelf, English self, Danish selv.


  • IPA(key): /zɛlpst/ (official standard)
  • IPA(key): /zɛlps/ (generally before a consonant; colloquially also in pausa)


  1. self (oneself, myself, yourself, himself, etc.)
    Du hast es selbst zugegeben.
    You yourself admitted it.
  2. even
    Selbst du hast es zugegeben.
    Even you admitted it.

Usage notes[edit]

  • For etymological reasons, selbst is often defined as a pronoun in sense 1. However, it is used like an adverb in contemporary German and can be replaced with other synonymic adverbs: du selbstdu persönlich ("you personally").
  • Selbst is generally understood to refer to the subject of the clause, whatever its position. Thus Ich habe Sandra selbst gefragt means: "I myself asked Sandra", and not: "I asked Sandra herself." This can only be changed by placing the object at the beginning of the clause: Sandra selbst habe ich gefragt. ("Sandra herself I asked.")


Derived terms[edit]