Definition of themselves in English:

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Pronunciation: /T͟Həmˈselvz/
Pronunciation: /T͟Həmˈselvz/


[third person plural]
1 [reflexive] Used as the object of a verb or preposition to refer to a group of people or things previously mentioned as the subject of the clause: countries unable to look after themselves
More example sentences
  • Patients should be able to refer themselves to a specialist in such circumstances.
  • Many people currently describe themselves as students or teachers of the subject.
  • Can she and her ex-husband save themselves and their young son from certain death?
2 [emphatic] Used to emphasize a particular group of people or things mentioned: excellent at organizing others, they may well be disorganized themselves
More example sentences
  • Computers are made out of materials which are themselves subject to the laws of Nature.
  • They are thus able to remain objects of desire without themselves being subject to it.
  • What annoys me most about the whole subject is the attitude of a lot of smokers themselves.
3 [singular] Used instead of “himself” or “herself” to refer to a person of unspecified sex: anyone who fancies themselves as a racing driver
More example sentences
  • Anyone prepared to put themselves forward as a leader there is taking their life in their hands.
  • All of which is hugely depressing to anyone who still considers themselves part of the left.
  • Very seldom would anyone put themselves through all of this just for a few quid.


On the use of themselves in the singular to mean ‘himself or herself,’ see they (usage).



(not) be themselves


by themselves

see themselves at by.

Words that rhyme with themselves

elves, ourselves, selves, shelves, theirselves, yourselves

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: them·selves

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