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

  • adj. Having or showing a moderate estimation of one's own talents, abilities, and value.
  • adj. Having or proceeding from a disinclination to call attention to oneself; retiring or diffident. See Synonyms at shy1.
  • adj. Observing conventional proprieties in speech, behavior, or dress.
  • adj. Free from showiness or ostentation; unpretentious. See Synonyms at plain.
  • adj. Moderate or limited in size, quantity, or range; not extreme: a modest price; a newspaper with a modest circulation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Not bragging or boasting about oneself or one's achievements, unpretentious, humble.
  • adj. Small, moderate in size.
  • adj. Avoiding being sexually suggestive.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Restraining within due limits of propriety; not forward, bold, boastful, or presumptious; rather retiring than pushing one's self forward; not obstructive
  • adj. Observing the proprieties of the sex; not unwomanly in act or bearing; free from undue familiarity, indecency, or lewdness; decent in speech and demeanor; -- said of a woman.
  • adj. Evincing modestly in the actor, author, or speaker; not showing presumption; not excessive or extreme; moderate

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Retiring in disposition or demeanor; restrained by a sense of propriety, humility, or diffidence; not ostentatious, bold, or forward; unobtrusive.
  • Acting with decorum or delicacy; restrained by chaste or scrupulous feelings; pure in thought and conduct.
  • Manifesting or seeming to manifest humility, propriety, or decorum; not gaudy, showy, or meretricious.
  • Moderate; not excessive or extreme; not extravagant: as, a modest computation; a modest fortune.
  • Unpretentious.
  • Synonyms Unassuming, unpretending, coy, shy. See bashfulness.
  • Decent, chaste, virtuous.

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

  • adj. marked by simplicity; having a humble opinion of yourself
  • adj. free from pomp or affectation
  • adj. limited in size or scope
  • adj. not large but sufficient in size or amount
  • adj. low or inferior in station or quality
  • adj. not offensive to sexual mores in conduct or appearance
  • adj. humble in spirit or manner; suggesting retiring mildness or even cowed submissiveness


Latin modestus; see med- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • Well, I think we gave pretty specific guidance on growth rates and we used the term modest leverage.

  • Nawas is just one of a group of athletic Kansas City area young Muslim women who wear the hijab and what they term "modest" dress long sleeves and pants or long skirts. Front Page

  • Nawas is just one of a group of athletic Kansas City area young Muslim women who wear the hijab and what they term "modest" dress - long sleeves and pants or long skirts. Front Page

  • Mohammed Rashid, its general manager, said the attack was expected to halt what he called a modest rebound in commercial shipping to Tripoli after an initial wartime slowdown.

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  • Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao told reporters Friday that for the entire year, though, China is expecting only what he called a modest trade surplus.

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  • As the word "modest" suggests, Gil is the quieter one.

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  • Erica says yes, she is going to take advantage of the sales because "it's the only way that she can afford to have what she calls a modest Christmas."

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  • Pentagon officials say they are contemplating now what they call a modest increase in those forces.

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  • Bolton told senators he has had made what he calls modest progress toward reforming the U.N. bureaucracy and in demanding a stronger response to North Korea's missile tests.

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  • The SA Communist Party welcomed what it described as modest measures, and proposed that the school-feeding scheme be revived.

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