Definition of ego in US English:



  • 1A person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance.

    ‘a boost to my ego’
    • ‘If a teacher starts in on a child about religion or other such things or starts to shun a child, it is very damaging to the ego and to the self esteem.’
    • ‘And I've heard whispers that another girl I work with has her eyes on me, which is helping to boost my ego a little…’
    • ‘Being in a relationship is a boost to the ego, and being dumped is devastating to it - at least if you're me.’
    • ‘A car, psychologists tell us, is an extension of man's ego.’
    • ‘Being outsmarted by a girl can really hurt a guy's ego.’
    • ‘It is very flattering and a big boost to the ego to receive compliments from someone like Stacey Jones.’
    • ‘After having dominated a sport for some time, that would have been a huge knock to her ego, to her self-esteem as a player and a person.’
    • ‘A couple of bruised male egos later I and about 11 other guys made the team.’
    • ‘She has called to ask me out to dinner: big boost to my male ego.’
    • ‘If I do get all of that done and sorted out properly my meetings tend to go very well, and that's a big big boost to my ego.’
    • ‘My ego is nicely boosted now, more so because I didn't expect it to happen.’
    • ‘I mean, that's got to hurt a guy's ego.’
    • ‘He argues that the male ego is increasingly fragile, with sexual performance at the root of it.’
    • ‘And if others notice you, it might polish your bruised ego a little.’
    • ‘Your natural reactions to circumstances encourage success and the healthy growth of your ego and self-esteem.’
    • ‘This completely shattered my pride and punctured my ego and self-respect.’
    • ‘You can no longer rely on his ineptitude to prop up your fragile ego.’
    • ‘But shhh, you have to pretend otherwise, or you'll bruise their fragile egos.’
    • ‘Some weeks, your ego gets a little boost when someone sends you an e-mail about something you wrote or approaches you in person.’
    • ‘It's no surprise he can't cope with sudden huge wealth, press intrusion and hoards of ‘yes men’ boosting his ego.’
    self-esteem, self-importance, self-worth, self-respect, self-conceit, self-image, self-confidence
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    1. 1.1Psychoanalysis The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.
      Compare with id and superego
      • ‘It talked about relaxing the grip of your ego and emptying your mind.’
      • ‘So what if perception is warped by our egos and reality is warped by perception?’
      • ‘The effects of a shift in identity from the ego to the inner self are dramatic and remarkable.’
      • ‘Jung also found that in practice both anima and animus act in dreams and in the imagination as mediators of the unconscious to the ego, so providing a means for inner as well as outer adaptation.’
      • ‘Letting go of the ego, the persona, the rational mind is a central experience in mystical traditions.’
      subconscious mind, subconscious, unconscious mind, psyche, superego, id, inner self, innermost self, self, inner man, inner woman
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    2. 1.2Philosophy (in metaphysics) a conscious thinking subject.
      • ‘In this being the empirical ego has its origin, and through ethical conduct it returns to its source.’
      • ‘The subject is not referable to questions of the ego, to notions of the self.’
      • ‘Indeed in the citation above Mulvey characterizes the formation of the ego as a kind of ‘phantasmization’ of the subject.’
      • ‘This diacritically marked subject experiences splitting of the ego.’
      • ‘According to Heidegger, a tendency to suicide is the ontological essence of human ego.’


Early 19th century: from Latin, literally ‘I’.