diffidence

noun
dif·fi·dence | \ˈdi-fə-dən(t)s, -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

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 To him, my diffidence may as well be a foreign language. Annie Tritt, Vox, "I photograph trans and nonbinary kids. It’s made me rethink my own gender.," 28 Mar. 2018 The decision to sack Rex Tillerson on Tuesday morning, without telling him face-to-face, is -- as of this hour -- the most glaring example of Trump's sudden-onset diffidence. Gregory Krieg, CNN, "Trump's new tagline: 'You were fired! A few hours ago'," 13 Mar. 2018 His diffidence blends well with his shambling characterization and Ford’s unhurried tempo. J. Hoberman, New York Times, "Mr. Lincoln Goes to Hollywood (and Looks Like Henry Fonda)," 26 Jan. 2018 But the government’s blatant bias during the campaign was at odds with this apparent diffidence. The Economist, "Apparatchik ascendantKyrgyzstan holds an election that was not a foregone conclusion," 18 Oct. 2017 But in an administration where diffidence can be as contemptible as disloyalty, Tillerson’s retiring leadership style threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. vanityfair.com, "Does Rex Tillerson Even Care That Nikki Haley Is Stealing His Thunder?," 22 Sep. 2017

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.

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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

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Last Updated

4 Sep 2018

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

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