Learn 20 Expressions Related to Selfishness

Selfishness, an attribute where one puts their own needs before those of others, is often viewed negatively. It can manifest in various forms, from mild self-centeredness to extreme egocentrism. Understanding how to identify and talk about selfish behavior can enrich your language and social insights. This blog post explores 20 common expressions and idioms related to selfishness, providing clear meanings and concise examples for each. These phrases will help you articulate observations about selfish actions in both everyday life and more formal discussions.

Expressions Related to Selfishness

1. Looking out for number one

Meaning: Putting one’s own needs first.

Example: He’s always looking out for number one, never the team.

2. Feather one’s own nest

Meaning: To enrich oneself at the expense of others.

Example: He’s accused of feathering his own nest through company funds.

3. Only care about oneself

Meaning: To show concern only for one’s interests.

Example: She only cares about herself and ignores her friends’ problems.

4. Have one’s head in the sand

Meaning: Ignore others’ needs or external situations.

Example: By ignoring the crisis, he’s got his head in the sand.

5. Pull the ladder up after oneself

Meaning: To advance oneself while hindering others following the same path.

Example: After finding success, he pulled the ladder up after himself.

6. Serve one’s own interests

Meaning: To act in a way that primarily benefits oneself.

Example: Politicians often just serve their own interests.

7. Not give a second thought

Meaning: To carelessly ignore the concerns or welfare of others.

Example: She didn’t give a second thought to how her actions affected her team.

8. Every man for himself

Meaning: Everyone should look after their own well-being.

Example: In times of crisis, it often seems like it’s every man for himself.

9. Hoist with one’s own petard

Meaning: To be hurt or destroyed by one’s own plot against others.

Example: He was hoisted with his own petard when his deceit backfired.

10. Look down one’s nose at

Meaning: To regard others as inferior.

Example: He looks down his nose at anyone who doesn’t share his background.

11. Me first attitude

Meaning: A selfish way of prioritizing one’s own needs.

Example: His me-first attitude has made him unpopular.

12. Throw someone under the bus

Meaning: Sacrifice others to benefit oneself.

Example: To save himself, he threw his colleague under the bus.

13. Watch one’s own back

Meaning: Be concerned primarily with one’s own safety or interests.

Example: In this competitive industry, you have to watch your own back.

14. Dog eat dog

Meaning: A situation of fierce competition where people are willing to harm each other to succeed.

Example: It’s a dog eat dog world in the finance sector.

15. Sink or swim

Meaning: To be left to succeed or fail by one’s own efforts alone.

Example: After the training, it was sink or swim for the new recruits.

16. Take care of number one

Meaning: To prioritize one’s own needs and concerns.

Example: He’s always taken care of number one, regardless of others.

17. Grab all the marbles

Meaning: To take everything for oneself, often greedily.

Example: In the merger, he tried to grab all the marbles.

18. Go it alone

Meaning: To act independently without regard for others’ assistance or feelings.

Example: She decided to go it alone, despite the risks.

19. Look after number one

Meaning: Similar to taking care of number one, focusing on one’s own welfare.

Example: He’s always looking after number one and neglects his responsibilities.

20. What’s in it for me?

Meaning: Question asked to ascertain personal gain in a situation.

Example: Before agreeing to help, he always asks, “What’s in it for me?”

Expressions Related to Selfishness