What does the idiom "keep oneself to oneself" mean?

Although the meanings of the words in them do not make any sense when examined one by one, the word groups that are shaped according to the cultural roots of the language and that make sense as a whole are called idioms. keep oneself to oneself meaning, in what situations is it used?

Meaning of "keep oneself to oneself"


The idiom 'keep oneself to oneself' means to remain introverted, stay distant and avoid social activities or contact with other people. It suggests that someone is particularly solitary, prefers to be alone and shuns the company of others.


The exact origin of the phrase 'keep oneself to oneself' is uncertain, though it appears to be quite old. It could be related to the Middle English phrase 'go to one's silf', which was used in the sense of 'being by oneself'. Alternatively, it may have been derived from the French phrase 'tenir les mains en soi', which can be roughly translated as 'holding one's hands close'.


The phrase 'keep oneself to oneself' is typically used to describe someone who is introverted, or particularly solitary, as noted above. It can also be used to describe someone who avoids contact with other people, particularly if they are seen to be overly secretive or uninterested in social interaction.

Example Sentences

  • John was a strange man, who kept himself to himself and never seemed to talk to anyone.
  • Amy always keeps herself to herself, so nobody really knows what she's up to.
  • She is happy to keep herself to herself and avoid the stress of social interaction.
  • He was happy to keep himself to himself and avoid talking to other people.

The meanings of the words in the "keep oneself to oneself" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


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