emphatic or reflexive form of third person feminine pronoun, Old English hire self; see her (objective case) + self. Originally dative, but since 14c. often treated as genitive, hence her own sweet self, etc. Also compare himself.
Old English hire "her," third person singular feminine dative pronoun, which replaced accusative hie beginning in 10c. See he. Cognate with Old Frisian hiri, Middle Dutch hore, Dutch haar, Old High German iru, German ihr.
Old English self, sylf (West Saxon), seolf (Anglian), "one's own person, -self; own, personal; same, identical," from Proto-Germanic *selbaz (source also of Old Norse sjalfr, Old Frisian self, Dutch zelf, Old High German selb, German selb, selbst, Gothic silba), Proto-Germanic *selbaz "self," from PIE *sel-bho-, suffixed form of root *s(w)e-, pronoun of the third person and reflexive (referring back to the subject of a sentence), also used in forms denoting the speaker's social group, "(we our-)selves" (see idiom).
Its use as the second element in compounded reflexive pronouns (herself, etc.) was in Old English, from the original independent (and inflected) use of self following personal pronouns, as in ic selfa "myself," min selfes "of myself." With a merging of accusative, dative, and genitive cases.
As a noun from c. 1200 as "the person or thing previously specified;" early 14c. as "a person in relation to that same person." G.M. Hopkins used selve as a verb, "become or cause to become a unique self" (1880) but its use seems to have been restricted to poets.