look out for number one

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look out for number one

  1. (idiomatic) To act in one's own interests; to act in a manner advantageous primarily to oneself.
    • 1870, Horatio Alger, Rufus and Rose, ch. 3:
      "I'm a poor widder, Mr. Martin, and I must look out for number one. I can't afford to keep boarders that don't pay their bills."
    • 1906, Mark Twain, "What is Man?":
      Old Man: A man performs but ONE duty—the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable to himself. . . . [H]e always looks out for Number One.

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