(I searched for phrases using 独 because of the 独立記念日.)
Literally: only – self – alone – precious
Alternately: Thinking that oneself is the best in the world. Being so self-assured that you don’t listen to anyone else. Conceit. Vainglory. Arrogance.
Notes: This compound may be paired with 天上天下 (which I thought I’d written a post on, but apparently not yet!), and apparently both come to us from the Dīrgha Āgama (長阿含経, Jou agonkyou in Japanese). It’s written that the Buddha (Shakyamuni) emerged suddenly from his mother’s side, took seven steps in each of the four cardinal directions, pointed to the earth and sky, and declared 天上天下唯我独尊. I suppose if you’re a newborn baby and yet already capable of walking and talking on your own, that level of self-importance may be a bit justified, but the rest of us should probably practice a bit of modesty. And despite this exalted origin, the phrase tends to be used to criticize someone’s unwarranted yet overweening pride.
[Image by ASUKAEN (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons]