Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The state or quality of being moderate in the estimation of one's own abilities, accomplishments, or value.
  • noun Reserve or propriety in speech, dress, or behavior.
  • noun The state of being unostentatious or moderate in size, quantity, or range.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To lose from modesty: with away.
  • noun The quality of being modest; moderation; freedom from exaggeration or excess.
  • noun Retiring disposition or demeanor; disinclination to presumption, ostentation, or self-assertion; unobtrusiveness; reserve proceeding from absence of over-confidence or self-esteem.
  • noun Decorous feeling or behavior; purity or delicacy of thought or manner; reserve proceeding from pure or chaste character.
  • noun Synonyms Diffidence, Shyness, etc. See bashfulness.
  • noun The hare's-ear or thorough-wax, Bupleurum rotundifolium.
  • noun The bladder-ketmia or flower-of-an-hour, Hibiscus Trionum.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The quality or state of being modest; that lowly temper which accompanies a moderate estimate of one's own worth and importance; absence of self-assertion, arrogance, and presumption; humility respecting one's own merit.
  • noun Natural delicacy or shame regarding personal charms and the sexual relation; purity of thought and manners; due regard for propriety in speech or action.
  • noun [Obs.] a narrow piece of lace worn by women over the bosom.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The quality of being modest; having a limited and not overly high opinion of oneself and one's abilities.
  • noun Moderate behaviour; reserve.
  • noun specifically Pudency, prudish avoidance of sexual explicitness.

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

  • noun freedom from vanity or conceit
  • noun formality and propriety of manner

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From modest + -y.

Examples

  • It is high time for _true_ modesty to take the place of that _false modesty_ which has driven virtue, like an exile, out of the land, and peopled it largely with

    Public School Education

  • I brought up the term modesty, and none of the 4 young ladies knew what the word meant!

    The sleazy sexism that's served up...

  • Major Bath, returned the compliment with a very low bow; but did not venture to make the first advance to familiarity, as he was truly possessed of that quality which the Greeks considered in the highest light of honour, and which we term modesty; though indeed, neither ours nor the Latin language hath any word adequate to the idea of the original.

    Amelia — Volume 2

  • Major Bath, returned the compliment with a very low bow; but did not venture to make the first advance to familiarity, as he was truly possessed of that quality which the Greeks considered in the highest light of honour, and which we term modesty; though indeed, neither ours nor the Latin language hath any word adequate to the idea of the original.

    Amelia — Complete

  • But whether modesty is actually good or bad is not my primary concern with what you appeared to say.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Sex Education, Dirty Words, and the Due Process Clause

  • Finally, I told the reporter that most of the girls I interviewed sought a new kind of empowerment, and that religion wasn't the main impetus behind what she dubs the modesty "backlash."

    Mail Call: Going Where No Man's Gone Before

  • Only because what we call modesty is awkward bashfulness and mauvaise honte.

    Letters to his son on The Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman

  • The laughter caused by grotesque mimicry or caricature of pompous or solemn individuals seems to arise from the same (more or less unconscious) working of the mind as that caused by some unexpected neglect of those social "taboos" or laws of behaviour which we call modesty, decency, and propriety.

    More Science From an Easy Chair

  • I only know that it is the best which I can find, to express one excellence which we see in our Lord, which is like what we call modesty in common human beings.

    Town and Country Sermons

  • It is thus that what we call modesty is often only

    Tales and Novels — Volume 02

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "A modest little man with much to be modest about." Winston Churchill of Clement Atlee.

    December 29, 2006