Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
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.
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.
blow itself out
To return to a state of calm after turmoil by its own workings. Don't worry, the storm will blow itself out eventually.
1. verb To cease burning (as of something that is currently or was recently ablaze). Get the birthday girl in here before the candles on her cake burn out! At this point, the firefighters are just going to let the fire burn out.
2. verb To stop working properly, often through overheating. In this usage, a reflexive pronoun can be used between "burn" and "out." Unfortunately, I think the motor in your lawn mower has burned out. We have to repair the engine before it burns itself out.
3. verb To hollow out by fire, as of a building. The fire completely ravaged and burned out our beloved home.
4. verb To force someone to leave a place by setting it on fire. During their attack, the troops burned out everyone in the town.
5. verb To overwork or exhaust someone or oneself, especially to the point of no longer being able to maintain a particular level of performance or dedication.. In this usage, a reflexive pronoun is often used between "burn" and "out." If you keep staying up so late working on this report, you're going to burn yourself out. Don't burn out your interns by making them come in every day.
6. noun One who is apathetic and unmotivated, especially an employee. When used as a noun, the phrase is usually written as one word. We need to hire some hard workers and get rid of these burnouts who collect a paycheck for doing nothing.
7. noun, slang A regular drug user or addict who displays the adverse effects of drug use, especially cognitive impairment. When used as a noun, the phrase is usually written as one word. You can't dismiss these students just because they're burnouts—they clearly need help and guidance.
Alone; with nothing else added. One nail by itself won't hold up that picture frame—put another nail in on this side. I think this dish is fine by itself—it doesn't need a sauce.
claim (something) for (oneself or something)
1. To declare something as one's property or jurisdiction. You can't have his potato chips—I already claimed them for myself! Do you think he might actually claim the throne for himself? After the battle, the victorious country claimed the contested area for itself.
2. To officially request money as repayment for damages. I can't believe he's claiming thousands of dollars for repairs when I barely dented his fender.
See also: claim
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.
burn (itself) out
1. [for a flame or fire] to run out of fuel and go out. Finally, the fires burned themselves out. The fire finally burned out.
2. [for an electrical or mechanical part] to fail and cease working. The motor finally burned itself out. The light bulb burned out.
burn (oneself) out
Fig. to do something so long and so intensely that one gets sick and tired of doing it. I burned myself out as a competitive swimmer. I just cannot stand to practice anymore. Tom burned himself out in that boring job.
burn someone out
Fig. to wear someone out; to make someone ineffective through overuse. (See also use someone up.) Facing all these problems at once will burn Tom out. The continuous problems burned out the office staff in a few months.
burn something out
1. to burn away the inside of something, getting rid of excess deposits. The mechanic burned the carbon out of the manifold. He burned out all of the carbon deposits.
2. to wear out an electrical or electronic device through overuse. Turn it off. You're going to burn the motor out! He burned out the motor.
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?
*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.
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.
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.
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.
*shadow of oneselfand *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.
speak for itselfand 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
burn out (something)also burn something out
to stop working because of damage The new motor burned out because they used the wrong type of oil.
Usage notes: usually said about a motor or engine
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of burn out (to stop producing a flame)
burn out (somebody)also burn somebody out
to stop being effective because of too much work or stress Most of these people will burn out within 10 years and be replaced by younger employees who don't mind working nights, weekends, and holidays. This work burns me out so much that by the end of the day I can't even decide what I want to eat for dinner.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
1. Stop functioning because something, such as fuel, has been used up. For example, There's nothing wrong with the lamp; the light bulb just burned out. [Late 1300s]
2. be burned out. Lose one's home, place of work, or school as the result of a fire. For example, Hundreds of tenants are burned out every year because of negligent landlords.
3. Also, burn oneself out. Make or become exhausted or disaffected, especially with one's work or schooling. For example, Many young lawyers burn themselves out after a few years of 70-hour weeks. This metaphoric term alludes to a fire going out for lack of new fuel. Robert Southey used it in an 1816 essay: "The spirit of Jacobinism was burnt out in France." [1970s]
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.
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 under in and of 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]
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
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]
1. To stop burning from lack of fuel: The candle burned out in a wisp of smoke. The bonfire burned out, and we threw sand on the embers.
2. To become inoperative as a result of excess heat or friction: This vacuum cleaner needs to be fixed—I think the motor burned out.
3. To destroy some structure completely by fire, so that only the frame is left. Used chiefly in the passive: City hall was burned out in the attack.
4. To be compelled or forced to leave some place due to fire. Used chiefly in the passive: The shopkeeper was burned out by arsonists.
5. To become exhausted, especially as a result of stress or excessive work: I'm so burned out with work—I could really use a vacation.
6. To make someone exhausted as a result of stress or excessive work: Your busy schedule will burn you out if you don't take a break soon. I burned myself out by studying too late into the night.
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.
burn itself out
To stop burning from lack of fuel: The brush fire finally burned itself out.