Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

themselves - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

pronoun     themselves pronunciation in British English
Themselves is a reflexive pronoun, being a reflexive form of they. It can be used especially in the following ways:
as an object that refers to the same people that are the subject of the sentence or that are mentioned somewhere earlier in the sentence: They prepared themselves for the struggle ahead.We ask people questions about themselves.
after a plural noun or the pronoun ‘they’ for emphasis: It is the party leaders themselves who make the decisions.
  1. 1
    used for showing that the people or things that do something are also affected by it or involved in it

    They have no weapons to defend themselves.

    The Republicans are divided among themselves about how to spend the money.

    The couple had been saving up to buy themselves a house.

  2. 2
    used for referring back to a group of people already mentioned in the same sentence

    Dr Jeffers’ book should give readers a better understanding of themselves.

    1. a.
      used instead of ‘himself’ or ‘herself’ for referring back to a singular subject of a sentence, especially when the subject is a word such as ‘everyone’, ‘someone’, or ‘anyone’

      Everyone should just help themselves to the food.

  3. 3
    used for emphasizing that a particular group of people are the ones that you are referring to, and not any others

    No one knows more about crime than the criminals themselves.

    The two youths died in a fire that they themselves had started.

    1. a.
      used for emphasizing that a particular group of people do something without help from anyone else

      The kids prepared the whole breakfast themselves.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Open Dictionary

snap election

a general election … that is called earlier than expected

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play