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With excrescent -t fossilized from the nonfeminine genitive singular Middle High German sëlbes, 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/ (usually before a consonant; colloquially also in pausa)
  • (file)



  1. personally, by oneself
    Synonym: selber
    Du hast es selbst zugegeben.
    You yourself admitted it.
    Der Mann selbst hat uns es gesagt.
    The man himself (personally) told us.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



  1. even
    Synonym: sogar
    Selbst du hast es zugegeben.Even you admitted it.

Usage notes[edit]

  • DWDS labels selbst an indeclinable pronoun when it means “personally”, and an adverb when it means “even”.[1] DWB labels it a pronoun when it means “personally”.[2] The Duden labels it a particle in both senses.[3]
  • 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 [was the one] I asked”).


  1. ^ selbst” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache
  2. ^ selbst” in Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm, 16 vols., Leipzig 1854–1961.
  3. ^ selbst” in Duden online