Entries linking to self-righteous
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.
an early 16c. alteration of the older word, rightwise, which is from Old English rihtwis, of actions, "characterized by justice, morally right," of persons, "just, upright; sinless, conforming to divine law," from riht (see right (adj.1)) + wis "wise, way, manner" (see wise (adj.)). The alteration of the ending is by influence of courteous, etc. As a noun, "those who are righteous," Old English rehtwisan. The meaning "genuine, excellent" is 1942 in jazz slang. Related: Righteously.
Upright gets force from the idea of physical perpendicularity, a standing up straight by the standard of right ; righteous carries up the idea of right to the standards, motives, and sanctions of religion ; rightful applies not to conduct, but to claims by right : as, he is the rightful owner of the land ; just suggests by derivation a written law, but presumes that the law is a right one, or that there is above it, and if necessary overruling it, a law of God. This last is the uniform Biblical usage. Just generally implies the exercise of some power or authority. [Century Dictionary]
updated on April 19, 2022