I want to build my confidence.

I want to build my self-confidence.

He is not as conceited as you think.

He is not as self-conceited as you think.

I think "self" is not necessary here. I think only necessary for words like "self-centered" because the 'center' word has different meaning if you remove self. Please clarify my thinking. Am I correct?

  • There's little need to use self-confidence here other than its being idiomatic: if there's no further context, confidence can only be self-confidence. You're free to choose. // Obviously, self-centred is required. // I'd avoid self-conceited as archaic. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 18 '18 at 0:35

I somewhat agree, though I think "self-confidence" is slightly different from "confidence" in that it generally means something like "confidence in one's own value or worth" or "confidence exhibited in one's general approach to life"... it's used specifically to refer to a character trait, whereas 'confidence' can refer to a disposition specific to a particular instance. One might be unreservedly confident of one's ability to pass a test, but that doesn't necessarily imply that one has a lot of self-confidence.

My guess is that "self-confidence" formed in a way similar to how "unravel" came to be a synonym of the older word "ravel"... because ravelling is a sort of "undoing", "un" seems a natural prefix, and eventually it became "correct" -- to the extent that one rarely hears the word "ravel" in contemporary usage.

"Self-conceited" is a phrase I'm not familiar with; at first blush, it sounds redundant and just wrong. I imagine that it results from a muddled conflation of 'conceited' with such terms as 'self-important', 'self-aggrandizing', etc. Offhand, I can't think of any situation where I would prefer 'self-conceited' to 'conceited'.

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