What is meant to use "self" before a gerund or a verb?

for example self-writing, or self-reading, self-teaching or self-taught, self-learning?

I specifically want the meaning of self-reading, and to know how much it's common. I found a meaning for it in Merriam Webster as capable of being easily read. I would like the word if it means as mentioned and if not which work could have the same meaning?

  • Where did you encounter these terms? I have met self-taught used of people who have taught themselves to do something, but not any of those you mention.
    – tunny
    Nov 6, 2014 at 15:08
  • Here merriam-webster.com/dictionary/self-reading has a meaning for it: capable of being easily read? In fact I look for a name for a software I have created.
    – Ahmad
    Nov 6, 2014 at 15:15
  • Also I think self-learning in computer science means unsupervised learning!
    – Ahmad
    Nov 6, 2014 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


self- here means "able to act on its/their own". Normally what follows "self" is an action that would normally require some outside supervision, input or intervention. It can be used to refer to both people (self-taught) or objects (self-heating).

For example:

Young children often have books read to them, or read books with help from parents or teachers. You might see "self-reading" used in this case to mean:
1. A book which has audio, so it "reads itself" to the child.
2. A child learning to read books by themselves without help.

Another meaning of "reading" is "to take a measurement from an instrument". e.g. "a man came to read my electricity meter." If my electricity meter was connected to the internet and sent readings to the company, such that no human intervention was required, we could call that "a self-reading meter".

These terms are not very common, but understandable.

  • Thank you, doe's self-read has the same meaning? for example should I use self-reading book or self-read book?
    – Ahmad
    Nov 6, 2014 at 17:31
  • "self-reading" if the book "reads itself". "self-read book" I feel is acceptable for "a book meant for children to practice reading by themselves".
    – nkjt
    Nov 7, 2014 at 12:46

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