Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Lacking or marked by a lack of self-confidence; shy and timid. See Synonyms at shy1.
  • adj. Reserved in manner.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. : Lacking confidence in others; distrustful.
  • adj. Lacking confidence in one's self; distrustful of one's own powers; not self-reliant; timid; modest; bashful; characterized by modest reserve.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Wanting confidence in others; distrustful.
  • adj. Wanting confidence in one's self; distrustful of one's own powers; not self-reliant; timid; modest; bashful; characterized by modest reserve.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Distrustful; wanting confidence in another's power, will, or sincerity.
  • Distrustful of one's self; not confident; reserved; timid; shy: as, a diffident youth.
  • Synonyms Bashful, shamefaced, sheepish.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. showing modest reserve
  • adj. lacking self-confidence

Etymologies

Middle English, from Latin diffīdēns, diffīdent-, present participle of diffīdere, to mistrust : dis-, dis- + fīdere, to trust; see bheidh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin present participle of diffidere ("to mistrust") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The old, merry Whiting looked sideways at Richard, then the round face assumed an expression of diffident humility for Mr. Hanks.

    Morgan’s Run

  • But, although Mary was a blushing and sensitive person, she was not what is commonly called a diffident girl; -- her nerves had that healthy, steady poise which gave her presence of mind in the most unwonted circumstances.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 03, No. 20, June, 1859

  • The word diffident has appeared in 72 New York Times articles in the past year, including on Sept. 2 in How to Choose and

    NYT > Home Page

  • But this was before I had reached what I will call the diffident period in the life of a writer.

    Aylwin

  • Mr. V.V. stood by a spindly table, carefully examining a small but costly vase, the property of Mr. Heth, of the Cheroot Works; and now he went on with a kind of diffident resolution, the air of one who gives a confidence with difficulty, but must do so now, for his honor.

    V. V.'s Eyes

  • We are told, and can well believe it, that he was "diffident" of Sir Walter's designs.

    Some Diversions of a Man of Letters

  • "Do you know," Thorpe began again, with a kind of diffident hesitation -- "do you happen to have formed an idea -- supposing that had been the case -- would she have accepted him?"

    The Market-Place

  • Here is video of Karl Rove talking with British TV Sky News, where he said that President Barack Obama is "diffident" when it comes to the details of the massive legislation he is pushing through Congress.

    Latest Articles

  • He's the kind of diffident youth who would have to be VERY sure before he ventured an opinion at all. "

    Secret Adversary

  • Mark says that they are often “diffident” about speaking it, strongly preferring their native tongue.

    American Grace

Comments

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  • shy timid modest hesitating

    January 3, 2014