Definition of themselves in English:

themselves

pronoun

  • 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’
    • ‘All four of them acquitted themselves with distinction appearing in all their finals.’
    • ‘It is a vehicle through which to teach children how to behave and how to feel about themselves and others.’
    • ‘Many people currently describe themselves as students or teachers of the subject.’
    • ‘Startled onlookers saw officers arm themselves and take up positions in front of the house.’
    • ‘Can she and her ex-husband save themselves and their young son from certain death?’
    • ‘All those who regard themselves as progressives must stand firm in the face of this new politics.’
    • ‘The executives in this case have shown themselves to be anything but patriotic.’
    • ‘Female nurses busied themselves lifting the patient and cutting off his clothes.’
    • ‘Police today offered advice on how van owners can make themselves less vulnerable to the gang.’
    • ‘He said a bonus of the system was that criminals were far more likely to own up once they saw themselves on camera.’
    • ‘When out and about, most people tend to behave sensibly enough not to put themselves at huge risk.’
    • ‘The two girls then lock up the gas station they run and head to the dump to rid themselves of the body.’
    • ‘People would also take clothes to be laundered, which they had to do themselves.’
    • ‘Patients should be able to refer themselves to a specialist in such circumstances.’
    • ‘There is a joke the Serbs tell against themselves about the two Serb astronauts who land on the moon.’
    • ‘Thousands of hopefuls have sent in videos of themselves and have been whittled down to a hundred.’
    • ‘Despite that threat, they threw themselves into the task of revitalising the place.’
    • ‘Instead, we could use fewer rights and a bit more room for parents to sort things out for themselves.’
    • ‘In fact, to do so is especially tempting since they seem to take themselves so very seriously.’
    • ‘We are educating adults not to trust one another or themselves around children.’
  • 2[emphatic] Used to emphasize a particular group of people or things mentioned.

    ‘excellent at organizing others, they may well be disorganized themselves’
    • ‘What annoys me most about the whole subject is the attitude of a lot of smokers themselves.’
    • ‘They have got to see what the good teams are doing and try to reach that level themselves.’
    • ‘They are thus able to remain objects of desire without themselves being subject to it.’
    • ‘This does not, as mentioned, mean that ethics and the rest are themselves nonsense.’
    • ‘Computers are made out of materials which are themselves subject to the laws of Nature.’
  • 3[singular] Used instead of ‘himself’ or ‘herself’ to refer to a person of unspecified sex.

    ‘anyone who fancies themselves as a racing driver’
    • ‘The album is a must-have for anyone who consider themselves to be a dancehall fan.’
    • ‘It is essential for anyone wanting to express themselves and hear what others have to say.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If they repeat themselves or go too far off the subject they can be challenged by another person.’
    • ‘Anyone intelligent can surely figure that out for themselves by hearing him speak?’
    • ‘So, is this just a common response for anyone who gives themselves fully to a given path?’
    • ‘Anyone prepared to put themselves forward as a leader there is taking their life in their hands.’
    • ‘Why else would anyone want to project themselves to a potential audience of millions?’
    • ‘I'm not sure that anyone baptised in this way would be able to call themselves a Christian.’

Usage

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

Phrases

  • (not) be themselves

    • see be oneself, not be oneself at be
  • by themselves

    • see by oneself at by

Pronunciation:

themselves

/ð(ə)mˈsɛlvz/