From Middle Dutch sich, from Middle High German sich, from Old High German sih, from Proto-Germanic *sek. Old Dutch did not have a reflexive pronoun, but used the normal accusative pronoun (if necessary intensified by selven, cf. English himself). Although the use of zich in Holland-based Dutch was clearly triggered by written German, this development was assisted by the fact that the south-eastern dialects of Dutch had already adopted certain High German pronoun forms in much earlier times (cf. Limburgish ich, mich, dich, zich).
- himself, herself, itself, oneself, themselves; (polite form) yourself, yourselves
- Hij wast zich. — He washes himself.
- Hij wast zich het gezicht. — He washes his face.
- Vergist u zich niet? — Aren't you mistaken? (polite)
- Ieder voor zich. — Every man for himself.
- expresses an unintended result with many otherwise non-reflexive, even ergative verbs
- Hij viel zich een ongeluk — He fell and this resulted in an accident.
- Hij lachte zich een bult — He laughed so severely that it left him a hunchback.
- Zich can be used whether the reflexivity of the verb is optional or mandatory. Optionally reflexive verbs can also take zichzelf as reflexive pronoun.
- As in English (but unlike German and French), Dutch reflexive pronouns do not express reciprocity, except dialectally. Arguably reciprocal senses may occur in fixed verb constructions, however. For example: Ze hebben zich verloofd. (“They have got engaged.”)