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his·self (hĭz-sĕlf)
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pron.
Chiefly Southern & South Midland US
Himself.

Our Living Language Speakers of some vernacular American dialects, particularly in the South, may use the possessive reflexive form hisself instead of himself (as in He cut hisself shaving) and theirselves or theirself for themselves (as in They found theirselves alone). These forms reflect the tendency of speakers of vernacular dialects to regularize irregular patterns found in the corresponding standard variety. In Standard English, the pattern of reflexive pronoun forms shows slightly irregular patterning; all forms but two are composed of the possessive form of the pronoun and -self or -selves, as in myself or ourselves. The exceptions are himself and themselves, which are formed by attaching the suffix -self/-selves to the object forms of he and they rather than their possessive forms. Speakers who use hisself and theirselves are smoothing out the pattern's inconsistencies by applying the same rule to all forms in the set. · A further regularization is the use of -self regardless of number, yielding the forms ourself and theirself. Using a singular form in a plural context may seem imprecise, but the plural meaning of ourself and theirself is made clear by the presence of the plural forms our- and their-. Hisself and theirselves have origins in British English and are still prevalent today in vernacular speech in England.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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