diffident

adjective
dif·​fi·​dent | \ˈdi-fə-dənt, -ˌdent\

Definition of diffident 

1 : hesitant in acting or speaking through lack of self-confidence

3 archaic : distrustful

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Other Words from diffident

diffidently adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for diffident

shy, bashful, diffident, modest, coy mean not inclined to be forward. shy implies a timid reserve and a shrinking from familiarity or contact with others. shy with strangers bashful implies a frightened or hesitant shyness characteristic of childhood and adolescence. a bashful boy out on his first date diffident stresses a distrust of one's own ability or opinion that causes hesitation in acting or speaking. felt diffident about raising an objection modest suggests absence of undue confidence or conceit. modest about her success coy implies a pretended shyness. put off by her coy manner

What's An Antonym of diffident?

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 since the 15th century to refer to individuals lacking in self-trust. 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.

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon trade off the lead female roles, playing the ambitious Regina and her diffident sister-in-law, Birdie. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "What’s New in NYC Theater," 29 June 2017 Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon trade off the lead female roles, playing the ambitious Regina and her diffident sister-in-law, Birdie. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "What’s New in NYC Theater," 29 June 2017 Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon trade off the lead female roles, playing the ambitious Regina and her diffident sister-in-law, Birdie. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "What’s New in NYC Theater," 29 June 2017 Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon trade off the lead female roles, playing the ambitious Regina and her diffident sister-in-law, Birdie. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "What’s New in NYC Theater," 22 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'diffident.' 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 diffident

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for diffident

Middle English, borrowed from Latin diffīdent-, diffīdens "distrustful, lacking in confidence," from present participle of diffīdere "to lack confidence (in), have no trust (in)," from dif-, assimilated form of dis- dis- + fīdere "to trust, have confidence (in)," going back to Indo-European *bhei̯dh- "trust, entrust" faith entry 1

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Time Traveler for diffident

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

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More Definitions for diffident

diffident

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of diffident

: lacking confidence : not feeling comfortable around people

: very careful about acting or speaking

diffident

adjective
dif·​fi·​dent | \ˈdi-fə-dənt \

Kids Definition of diffident

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on diffident

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with diffident

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for diffident

Spanish Central: Translation of diffident

Nglish: Translation of diffident for Spanish Speakers

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