Ok, so something can be self-referencing.

"This sentence contains thirty-eight letters."


"This is not a pipe."

The Treachery Of Images (1928-29) by René Magritte depicts a pipe along with text stating "This is not a pipe."

But what is "doing that" called?

Along the lines of how self-deprecating is self-deprecation.

Thought maybe… self-referenciation, but that doesn't seem to exist. How ironic.

  • I actually don't think this is self- de referencing- This is just a self-reference, and doing that is called 'making a self-reference', and things that do it are described as 'self-referential'
    – Jim
    May 6, 2012 at 5:22
  • @jwpat7 I edited the question, as you're right.. The actual question I was asking changed between writing the "subject" and the "body" resulting in a bit of a befuddled mess. So Jim. the idea, i guess then, would be the noun form of actively being self-referential.
    – alex gray
    May 6, 2012 at 5:30
  • @alexgray I guess I'd call that self-referral
    – Jim
    May 6, 2012 at 6:10
  • 2
    noun: self-reference; verb: self-reference; adjective: self-referential; adverb: self-referentially. May 6, 2012 at 12:07

2 Answers 2


The OED's definition of self-reference includes a mention of propositions and paradoxes, making it especially apt for your two examples:

Reference to oneself or itself; the direction of one's attention at oneself, esp. in forming a comparative assessment of one's characteristics or experience; spec. in Philos., the characteristic or quality of referring to itself contained in certain paradoxes, propositions, or statements.

To answer your question, then, I guess the act of self-reference is called a self-reference.

My favorite self-referencing paradox goes something like this:

enter image description here


The term you're looking for is self-reference.

"This is a sentence."
Ah, I like it when an example makes a self-reference.


Usage as verb:

ARTIST OF THE DAY: Emmy the Great Charts the Stages of 'Second Love' By Nilina Mason-Campbell
myspace.com (registration) (blog)-May 10, 2016
I also have this jokey thing in my head about albums that self-reference. There's something goofy and overblown about it (like my band name).

  • This is a comment. (I enjoy self-references as well.)
    – J.R.
    May 6, 2012 at 9:55
  • This is not a comment, it's a paradox, but it is self-referential nonetheless.
    – frank
    May 14, 2016 at 10:37
  • @JR: Good one, that!
    – Kris
    May 15, 2016 at 12:12

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