What shall I say in natural English to convey that someone is just looking for his own benefit/profit in everything (i.e. business, personal relationships, social connections etc.)

The term which can be used in this aense in my view is:

Self-interest which as an uncount noun means:

the act of considering the advantage to yourself when making decisions, and deciding to do what is best for you:

  • The company's donation was surely motivated by self-interest, as it attracted a lot of media attention.

We say something like:

He just looks for his self-interest. [direct translation]

But I don't know what would you say instead in natural English? Does my made-up sentence sound natural to you? I wonder if you could let me know about it.

1 Answer 1


In the context of a specific situation, rather than generally across all situations. Someone could be:

"only out for him/herself"

If the person is looking out for their own interest ahead of any consideration of other people's feelings, the outcome for the other person etc then they are "only out for themself".

It essentially means "I'm only looking out for myself [rather than anyone else]".

A real world example:

The problem is that too many of you are choosing not to use that built-in system. Instead of getting out and experiencing the world, listening to your feelings, and figuring things out for yourself, you’re letting others who are only out for themselves tell you how you should run your life. Frankly, that’s just nuts. Every decision you make that way is a bad decision.

Another example:

Hillary Clinton is only out for herself says Judge Jeanie.

More generally, if the person is always like this in every situation, then they are

"always looking out for number one"

If you are looking out for number one, you are thinking of yourself rather than considering other people.

Alternative source:

: to think primarily about oneself and do what helps one most

// We don't want a senator who's (only/always) looking out for number one.

  • Thank you very much @seventyeightist for the informative and useful post. Just one question; In the sentence: "He only/just looks out for number one", do the adverbs "only/just" sound redundant to you or they work properly (while I'm not confident that the idiom encapsulates the speaker with it or not).
    – A-friend
    May 21, 2019 at 6:00
  • 1
    Only/always/just looks out for number one works properly and isn't redundant (assuming you are only using one of them, of course! :) ) May 21, 2019 at 18:58

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