Definition of ego in US English:



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

    ‘a boost to my ego’
    • ‘But shhh, you have to pretend otherwise, or you'll bruise their fragile egos.’
    • ‘I mean, that's got to hurt a guy's ego.’
    • ‘Being in a relationship is a boost to the ego, and being dumped is devastating to it - at least if you're me.’
    • ‘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 if others notice you, it might polish your bruised ego a little.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A car, psychologists tell us, is an extension of man's ego.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She has called to ask me out to dinner: big boost to my male ego.’
    • ‘It is very flattering and a big boost to the ego to receive compliments from someone like Stacey Jones.’
    • ‘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…’
    • ‘Some weeks, your ego gets a little boost when someone sends you an e-mail about something you wrote or approaches you in person.’
    • ‘He argues that the male ego is increasingly fragile, with sexual performance at the root of it.’
    • ‘A couple of bruised male egos later I and about 11 other guys made the team.’
    • ‘You can no longer rely on his ineptitude to prop up your fragile ego.’
    • ‘Being outsmarted by a girl can really hurt a guy's ego.’
    • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.
      • ‘According to Heidegger, a tendency to suicide is the ontological essence of human ego.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


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