word forming element indicating "oneself," also "automatic," from Old English use of self (pron.) in compounds, such as selfbana "suicide," selflice "self-love, pride, vanity, egotism," selfwill "free will." Middle English had self-witte "one's own knowledge and intelligence" (early 15c.).
OED counts 13 such compounds in Old English. Middle English Compendium lists four, counting the self-will group as a whole. It re-emerges as a living word-forming element mid-16c., "probably to a great extent by imitation or reminiscence of Greek compounds in (auto-)," and formed a great many words in the pamphlet disputes of the 17c.
1570s, "self-reliant, sure of oneself;" c. 1600, "fully assured, having strong belief," from French confident, from Latin confidentem (nominative confidens) "firmly trusting, reliant, self-confident, bold, daring," present participle of confidere "to have full trust or reliance," from assimilated form of com, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + fidere "to trust" (from PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade"). Related: Confidently.