The synonyms of egotism are: pride, vanity, conceit, self-conceit and self-consciousness; but there are subtle differences in the meanings of all of these words.
Egotism is a strong, obtrusive confidence in one's self, shown primarily in conversation by frequent reference to one's self, by monopolizing attention, and ignoring the opinions of others. It differs from conceit mainly in its selfishness and unconsciousness of its appearance in the eyes of others.
Conceit, or self-conceit, is an inflated opinion of one's abilities and achievements. It is the elevation of oneself based on external things like wealth. Conceit becomes egotism when it is selfish enough to disparage others for its own comparative elevation.
- Pride: Pride is a self-contained satisfaction with the excellence of what one is or has, despising what others are to think.
- Vanity: Vanity is somewhat the opposite of pride; it is the love of being admired. While pride rests upon intrinsic/higher things (pride of family, place or power; intellectual or spiritual pride), vanity rests upon extrinsic/lower things (beauty, dress, jewelry).
The main difference between pride and vanity is the dependence upon others. It is possible that for the same things one person may have proud and another vanity. One can also be too proud to be vain.
Here are some quotes than help clarify the differences between pride, vanity, conceit and egotism.
- There can be no doubt that this remarkable man owed the vast influence which he exercised over his contemporaries at least as much to his gloomy egotism as to the real power of his poetry.—Thomas Macaulay in "Moore's Byron"
- Pride relates more to our opinions of ourselves; vanity to what we would have others think of us. — Jane Austen.
- Gray's pride was not, as it sometimes is, allied to vanity; it was personal rather than social, if I may attempt a distinction which I feel but can hardly define.—James Russell Lowell
- ...his excessive egotism, which filled all objects with himself.—William Hazlitt
- Conceit may puff a man up but never props him up.—John Ruskin