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in itself

Without the consideration of anything else. (A shortening of the full phrase "in and of itself.") The defendant's story seems plausible in itself, but when taken alongside the testimony of the witnesses, it starts to look less and less believable. As a sequel, the movie does an good job of continuing the story of the first, but it fails as a cohesive, enjoyable film in itself.
See also: itself

a house divided against itself cannot stand

If a group's members are in perpetual disagreement, the group will eventually cease to exist. The phrase is derived from a verse in the Bible (Mark 3:25) and was popularized in an 1858 speech by Abraham Lincoln. The candidate urged the members of his political party to unite because he understood that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

an end in itself

Something that is its own entity with no greater purpose. My parents think that studying literature is an end in itself and will never lead to a career.
See also: end, itself

blow itself out

[for a storm or a tantrum] to lose strength and stop; to subside. (Fixed order.) The storm blew itself out. Eventually, the hurricane blew itself out.
See also: blow, itself, out

by itself

with the help of nothing else; without the addition of anything else. Will this food be enough by itself for all of us? Can the dog get out of the house by itself?
See also: itself

*an end in itself

existing for its own sake; existing for no clear purpose. (*Typically: be ~; become ~.) For Bob, art is an end in itself. He doesn't hope to make any money from it. Learning is an end in itself. Knowledge does not have to have a practical application.
See also: end, itself

History repeats itself.

Prov. The same kinds of events seem to happen over and over. It seems that history is about to repeat itself for that poor country; it is about to be invaded again. Alan: The country is headed for an economic depression. Jane: How do you know? Alan: History repeats itself. The conditions now are just like the conditions before the last major depression.
See also: history, itself, repeat

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Prov. If the members of a group fight each other, the group will disintegrate. (Often the group under discussion is a family.) The leader of the newly formed union tried hard to reconcile the different factions within his organization, because he knew that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

in and of itself

considering it alone. The idea in and of itself is not bad, but the side issues introduce many difficulties. Her action, in and of itself, caused us no problem.
See also: and, itself, of

lend oneself or itself to something

Fig. [for someone or something] to be adaptable to something; [for someone or something] to be useful for something. This room doesn't lend itself to bright colors. John doesn't lend himself to casual conversation. I don't think that this gown lends itself to outdoor occasions.
See also: itself, lend

*shadow of oneself

 and *a shadow of itself; *a shadow of one's former self
Fig. someone or something that is not as strong, healthy, full, or lively as before. (*Typically: be ~; become ~.) The sick man was a shadow of his former self. The abandoned mansion was merely a shadow of its old self.
See also: of, shadow

speak for itself

 and speak for themselves
[for something] not to need explaining; to have an obvious meaning. The facts speak for themselves. Tom is guilty. Your results speak for themselves. You need to work harder.
See also: itself, speak

speak for

oneself to speak on one's own behalf. I can speak for myself. I don't need you to speak for me. speak for yourself. What you say does not represent my thinking.
See also: speak

speak for someone or something

1. to testify or argue for someone or something. I would be happy to speak for you in court. Just tell me when. My attorney will speak for our position.
2. to lay claim to someone or something. Fred is spoken for. I want to speak for the red one.
See also: speak

suggest itself to someone

[for an idea] to seem to present itself to someone. A new scheme suggested itself to Alice as she looked at the records of the last attempt. As you read this, does anything suggest itself to you?
See also: itself, suggest

work itself out

[for a problem] to solve itself. Eventually, all the problems worked themselves out without any help from us. This will work itself out. Don't worry.
See also: itself, out, work

an end in itself

(slightly formal)
satisfying no other purpose than the enjoyment of doing it Memorizing facts can become an end in itself and not a way of understanding something.
See also: end, itself

in and of itself

without considering anything else Any step we can take to end the conflict and save lives is important in and of itself.
Usage notes: sometimes used in the form in and of themselves: Lower interest rates in and of themselves don't mean much for stock prices.
See also: and, itself, of

lend itself to something

to be good for a particular use It was surprising how well her book lent itself to being turned into a film.
See also: itself, lend

speak for somebody/something

to express the opinions or wishes of someone I can't speak for my boss on something that is so personal. Tokarczyk believed that her poetry could speak for the nation.
See also: speak

speak for yourself

to say what you really believe or think is true She should tell us what happened – I mean, she's an adult, she can speak for herself.
Usage notes: sometimes used to say you do not agree with what someone else has said: “Without makeup a woman cannot be pretty.” “Speak for yourself. I think she's beautiful with no makeup at all.”
See also: speak

an end in itself

if an activity or action is an end in itself, it is important to you not because it will help you to achieve something else, but because you enjoy doing it or think that it is important Education should be an end in itself.
See also: end, itself

speak for itself/themselves

if something speaks for itself, it does not need any explanation I'm not going to talk about our business successes. I think the report speaks for itself.
See also: itself, speak

end in itself

A purpose or goal desired for its own sake (rather than to attain something else). For example, For me, writing books is an end in itself; they don't really make that much money. This expression employs the noun end in the sense of "final cause or purpose," a usage dating from the early 1500s.
See also: end, itself

in and of itself

Intrinsically, considered alone. For example, In and of itself the plan might work, but I doubt that it will be approved. It is also put simply as in itself, as in This account may be true in itself. [First half of 1600s]
See also: and, itself, of

in itself

see under in and of itself.
See also: itself

lend itself to

Adapt to, be suitable for. For example, The Bible lends itself to numerous interpretations, or This plot of land lends itself to a variety of uses. [Mid-1800s]
See also: itself, lend

repeat oneself

Express oneself in the same way or with the same words, as in Grandma forgets she has told us this story before and repeats herself over and over, or This architect tends to repeat himself-all his houses look alike. A well-known version of this idiom is the proverb History repeats itself, first recorded (in English) in 1561. For example, Her mother also married when she was 18-history repeats itself. [Mid-1800s]
See also: repeat

speak for

1. Intercede for, recommend, as in He spoke for the young applicant, commending her honesty. [c. 1300]
2. Express the views of, as in I can't speak for my husband but I'd love to accept, or I don't care what Harry thinks-Speak for yourself, Joe. [c. 1300]
3. speak for itself. Be significant or self-evident, as in They haven't called us in months, and that speaks for itself. [Second half of 1700s]
4. spoken for. Ordered, engaged, or reserved, as in This lot of rugs is already spoken for, or Is this dance spoken for? This usage comes from the older verb, bespeak, meaning "to order." [Late 1600s]
See also: speak

speak for

1. To act as spokesperson for someone or something: I speak for the entire staff when I say thank you. I think these photographs will speak for themselves. Hey, speak for yourself—I'm not too old to dance! I can't speak for my competitors, but we take every precaution to ensure the customer's safety.
2. To make a reservation or request for someone or something. Chiefly used in the passive: Is this dance spoken for? That painting is already spoken for.
See also: speak

burn itself out

To stop burning from lack of fuel: The brush fire finally burned itself out.
See also: burn, itself, out
References in classic literature ?
She stood apart from moral interests, yet close beside them, like a ghost that revisits the familiar fireside, and can no longer make itself seen or felt; no more smile with the household joy, nor mourn with the kindred sorrow; or, should it succeed in manifesting its forbidden sympathy, awakening only terror and horrible repugnance.
The Revolution itself was a work of thirteen years--and had never been completed until that day.
But it is by reason of the modification which takes place within the substance itself that a substance is said to be capable of admitting contrary qualities; for a substance admits within itself either disease or health, whiteness or blackness.
Suddenly a croupier informed me that I had, won thirty thousand florins, as well as that, since the latter was the limit for which, at any one time, the bank could make itself responsible, roulette at that table must close for the night.
Then consider the garden of "my own," so overgrown, entangled with roses and lilies, as to be "a little wilderness"--the fawn loving to be there, and there "only"--the maiden seeking it "where it should lie"--and not being able to distinguish it from the flowers until "itself would rise"--the lying among the lilies "like a bank of lilies"--the loving to "fill itself with roses,"
It is the doctrine of universal experience professed with a cynicism that is really most extraordinary, and which, presenting itself in a young woman of considerable education, appears to me to be the judgment of a society.
Thought was then free only in this manner; hence it never wrote itself out completely except on the books called edifices.
At the council at Fili the prevailing thought in the minds of the Russian commanders was the one naturally suggesting itself, namely, a direct retreat by the Nizhni road.
There I found joy and sorrow mixed, and nothing abstract or typical, but everything standing for itself, and not for some other thing.
In his sleep, as if it had nothing fresher to work upon, his mind went back and tortured itself with something years and years away, an old, long-forgotten sorrow of his childhood.
At the same time it extended itself to north and south, joining small patches of mist that appeared to come out of the mountainside on exactly the same level, with an intelligent design to be absorbed.
It was the book itself he cared for, Leslie--not what might be said of it--and he had it.
And the blindness of the intellect begins when it would be something of itself.
To create new values--that, even the lion cannot yet accomplish: but to create itself freedom for new creating--that can the might of the lion do.
But now, when he began to think over the question that had just presented itself, it seemed to him very complicated and difficult.