Definition of modest
- a family of modest means
- a modest home
They own a modest home near the beach.
She enjoyed modest success with her singing career.
He earns a modest income.
We live on a modest budget.
New cars are now available at relatively modest prices.
He has only a modest amount of knowledge on the subject.
It is a book of only modest importance.
She's very modest about her achievements.
Don't be so modest. Your performance was wonderful!
“I'm not a hero. I was just doing my job,” he said in his characteristically modest way.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'modest.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
When used to modify a sum or amount, or to mean "unpretentious," modest conveys a sense of not being excessive:
Captives received a modest salary of $0.80 per day, working at farms around Sonoma County picking apples, prunes, hops and other crops.
Janet Balicki, The Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat, 8 Dec. 2016
The minister of foreign affairs drove up in a modest car and joined our conversation.
Michael Taussig, Vice, 22 June 2016
The adjective humble is often used this way too, as when one speaks of "one's humble abode." Both words can be used in a humorous way that might be seen as self-deprecating.
Like humble, modest adequately describe one who does not boast about one's achievements, thereby avoiding a different kind of excessiveness:
Louisa May Alcott was always modest about her gifts; whatever early dreams of genius she might have nourished had been knocked out of her years before her literary fame arrived.
Barbara L. Packer, The New York Times Book Review, 25 Oct. 1987
Soft-spoken and modest in conversation, Knoll would be accomplished enough with his visual-effects credits in movies alone.
Julie Hinds, The Detroit Free Press, 11 Dec. 2016
First Known Use: 1550See Words from the same year
arrogant, bumptious, conceited, egotistic (or egotistical), haughty, highfalutin (also hifalutin), high-and-mighty, high-handed, high-hat, hoity-toity, huffy, imperious, lordly, overweening, peremptory, pompous, presuming, presumptuous, pretentious, self-asserting, self-assertive, supercilious, superior, uppity;
: not very large in size or amount
: not too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities : not showing or feeling great or excessive pride
of clothing : not showing too much of a person's body
What made you want to look up modest? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).