Simple Definition of diffident
: lacking confidence : not feeling comfortable around people
: very careful about acting or speaking
Examples of diffident in a sentence
Being suspicious of conventions, demotic equals were often at a loss in their daily encounters: shall one act diffident or clamant of one's rights? —Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, 2000
Whatever made him diffident at the prospect of having a military strike ordered in his defense, he kept it to himself. —George Stephanopoulos, Newsweek, 15 Mar. 1999
“It's Indianapolis 500,“ Andrew said with a polite smile, pleasing me with his diffident correction. —Camille Minichino, The Lithium Murder, 1999
… a boy of 8 or 13, gazing foursquare at the camera, diffident but showing off, petulant but vulnerable … —Walker Percy, New York Times Book Review, 11 Oct. 1987
She was diffident about stating her opinion.
<for someone who makes a living performing for other people, the actress is remarkably diffident in real life>
Did You Know?
Diffident and confident are antonyms, but both have a lot to do with how much trust you have in yourself. Etymology reveals the role that that underlying trust plays in the two terms. Confident and diffident both trace back to the Latin verb fidere, which means "to trust." Diffident arose from a combination of fidere and the prefix dis-, meaning "the absence of," and it has been used to refer to individuals lacking in self-trust since the 15th century. Confident arose from confidere, a term created by combining fidere with the intensifying prefix con-. That term has been used for self-trusting folks since at least the late 16th century. By the way, fidere puts the trust in several other English words too, including fidelity and fiduciary.
Origin and Etymology of diffident
Middle English, from Latin diffident-, diffidens, present participle of diffidere to distrust, from dis- + fidere to trust — more at bide
First Known Use: 15th century
Synonym Discussion of diffident
DIFFIDENT Defined for Kids
Definition of diffident for Students
1 : lacking confidence <With encouragement he became less diffident.>
2 : cautious about acting or speaking <“Speak out, my boy—don't be diffident.” — Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer>
Seen and Heard
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