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Sometimes, 'themself' sounds correct, other times I can't help slipping back to 'themselves', even though it's singular.

"synonyms: himself, themselves" WTF? Themselves is not the same is themself, and himself is only half of it.

I was going to question this, but I find there are many archived print examples where the context is talking about an unknown individual "other person" of unknown sex. So the pronoun needs to be both singular and neutral. This seems to be the only way. - Algrif 14:46, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Themself vs themselves[edit]

While some external sources swear up and down that "themselves" is strictly preferable to "themself" as a singular pronoun, I can nevertheless find direct attestations to "themself" as a singular pronoun going back to Middle English, before the birth of Columbus. What real basis is there for preferring one over the other in this form of usage? -- 03:40, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

More than "some" external sources claim "themself" as inappropriate. Google, Microsoft, and even Wiktionary/Wikipedia don't consider even consider it a real word--as indicated by the red squiggly on even this text editor. I personally prefer "themself" as a singular gender neutral third person reflective pronoun over "themselves," but personal preference doesn't mean "themselves" is only used ""in some dialects"".

The red squiggly on this text editor has nothing to do with Wiktionary; it's added by the browser spellchecker.--Prosfilaes (talk) 05:25, 16 July 2013 (UTC)


Surely the formal and most acceptable synonym for themself is oneself? I think this belongs in the list at the bottom of the entry for alternatives, and it should be mentioned that the use of non-gendered third-person 'one', and thus 'oneself', is considered overly formal.

Of course, the use of oneself would require rewording a sentence. Example sentences I can think of using themself do not work with a straight swap of oneself or themself. i.e. The individual may not considering themself to be disabled / The individual may not consider oneself to be disabled. (I think this example works better as 'An individual…', although it still sounds strange.)

Oneself is very rare; it only has 455 hits on Google Books. My English-speaking ear wants to call oneself wrong; I think rare the audience that would find it better.--Prosfilaes 13:12, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
I would hardly call oneself particularly rare, but rather, quite formal. I think the actual problem here is that oneself doesn't have the same meaning as themself/themselves. While both are gender neutral, the former is indefinite (i.e. it stands in for a general category of things), while the latter is definite (i.e. it stands in for a specific thing). 07:58, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
I see 8 million or more results. Equinox 17:53, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

"in use for hundreds of years"[edit]

I guess I must be because I'm the one who added [Where?] to the sentence ending "hundreds of years" which SemperBlotto removed almost immediately.

I'm not objecting to the word or its new usage. Let's have more. I'm only questioning the assertion of it's having been in use for hundreds of years. Oxford mentions its first recorded use in the fourteenth century but also its recent re-emergence. No other dictionary I can find apart from on-line ones mentions it at all. I fear that the assertion as it stands will lead people including scholars to assume that it has been in constant use for seven hundred years rather than perhaps once or twice seven hundred years ago and having been re-invented in the last decade.

There is no instance of it in Shakespeare, Dickens or Darwin so far as I can tell.

Before submitting the above I thought I should search further than eight pages of google hits and the texts I happen to have in my machine. OK, so I was wrong. It has been in more-or-less constant use but as the plural form that is apparently older 'though less common than than "themselves". We have the statutes of King George the Third, Visser's Historical Syntax, Emily Dickenson's "Themself are all I have" and no doubt countless others. I can find no reference (admittedly I only scanned another eight pages) of singular uses prior to 2011 apart from a blog comment of 2007 which contains the singular form "them self" as two separate words.

I should like to see the assertion qualified or a new section that points out that until the twenty-first century the word was strictly plural.

Phil Last (talk) 17:37, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Decided to do it myself. Phil Last (talk) 10:10, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

"Themself" is always singular, and you haven't provided a lick of evidence otherwise, nor did you edit the part of the page that uses it as such. "Themself are all I have" doesn't work, since "themself" is reflexive; anyway you cut it, it's problematic. (Trying to do lexicography from poetry is often a less then productive exercise.)--Prosfilaes (talk) 20:40, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

To suggest that '"themself" is always singular' requires as much evidence as its opposite. The page states: "While proscribed by many, this word has been in common use for hundreds of years." having previously only mentioned the singular use, 'though in less autocratic a way as you because it merely doesn't mention the plural rather than denying its existence. The only inference possible is that it was in use in the singular hundreds of years ago. And no-one has even attempted to point to any. Is this enough evidence:

The Statutes of the Realm: Printed by Command of His Majesty King George the Third ...
Chapter IV. AN ACTE for payment of Custome.
... many and dyv's psonnes being the Kynges Subjectes naturally borne withyn this his Realme have withdrawen themself out of the same Realme and t'nsported themself with their Wyfe Childern and Goodes into Holland ...

[extracted from what is probably the very source referred to above as "many archived print examples" and "going back to Middle English"]

As I mentioned above there is also Visser's Historical Syntax published in the 1960s and many, many more.

My original edit, removed without explanation by SemperBlotto, merely questioned the source of this assertion. I still question it. But I have no axe to grind except a distaste for web-sites that give an impression of learning and respectability while insisting upon propagating falsehood sourced by people with a political agenda. Phil Last (talk) 16:54, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

We give an impression of learning and respectability? Then why would you expect your edits to be accepted without evidence written up in the standard forms, without careful discussion over months or even years?--Prosfilaes (talk) 19:38, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
The correct way to question something in a usage note is to discuss it on the talk page, post a topic at the Tea Room, or, if it's etymology-related, post a topic at the Etymology Scriptorum. Adding a question in brackets within the body of the usage notes is like writing in a dictionary with a marker: yes, it gets people's attention- but not the kind of attention you want. Chuck Entz (talk) 20:30, 20 December 2013 (UTC)