dif·​fi·​dence | \ ˈdi-fə-dən(t)s How to pronounce diffidence (audio) , -fə-ˌden(t)s \

Definition of diffidence

: the quality or state of being unassertive or bashful : the quality or state of being diffident

Examples of diffidence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Trapped by governmental controls and near-negligible growth rates, there was a diffidence that lasted for decades since Independence. S. Gopikrishna Warrier, Quartz India, "Like unchecked growth, economic decline too can have environmental fallouts in India," 20 Jan. 2020 Epstein and Friedman offer many such anecdotal moments but, like their diffidence regarding the origins of the band’s name, shy away from pursuing them in depth. BostonGlobe.com, "“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice,”," 12 Sep. 2019 His touch is humane, restrained sometimes to the point of diffidence, but genuinely interested in locating small and large truths within broad comic concepts. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "‘Tel Aviv on Fire’ review: Playing an Israeli/Palestinian soap opera for laughs," 29 July 2019 Only resolution and resourcefulness, not diffidence and jokes, will secure victory. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Who Is Boris Johnson?," 19 July 2019 The general principle would seem to apply: Prosecutors are supposed to consider the impact of their actions on significant events outside the criminal-justice system, and to act with due diffidence. Michael B. Mukasey, WSJ, "The Russia Indictments: Why Now?," 16 July 2018 Thomas’s gentle diffidence, and his director’s fiercely rigorous style, leave his motives denser than unproved sourdough. Ofir Raul Graizer, New York Times, "Review: A German ‘Cakemaker’ and an Israeli Widow Share Loss and Cookies," 28 June 2018 The failure of Jimmy Carter’s one term in office (the product of a combination of his own shortcomings, congressional diffidence, and energy shocks engineered by OPEC) became a central theme of Republican messaging for decades. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Poll: Barack Obama Was the Greatest President of Our Lifetime," 11 July 2018 Truthful to Julie's pre-feminist heart, Mueller adopts a tender diffidence. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "What 'My Fair Lady' and 'Carousel' bring to Broadway that 'Mean Girls' does not," 17 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'diffidence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of diffidence

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for diffidence

Middle English dyffidence, borrowed from Latin diffīdentia, from diffīdent-, diffīdens "distrustful, diffident" + -ia -ia entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about diffidence

Time Traveler for diffidence

Time Traveler

The first known use of diffidence was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for diffidence

Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Diffidence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diffidence. Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on diffidence

What made you want to look up diffidence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!