Definition of modest
1a : placing a moderate estimate on one's abilities or worthb : neither bold nor self-assertive : tending toward diffidence
2 : arising from or characteristic of a modest nature
4a : limited in size, amount, or scope <a family of modest means>b : unpretentious <a modest home>
Examples of modest in a sentence
The foundry work was grueling, but for a little longer Brierfield afforded these African Americans a way station of modest freedom and a residue of authentic independence that was fast disappearing for most rural blacks. —Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery By Another Name, 2008
… these remnants he lacked the will to discard, depressed him, deepening the low fever of depression in which even as modest a task as removing a blue doorknob loomed like a mountain almost impossible to climb. —John Updike, Harper's, October 2004
You're the hero, so then you have to behave in a certain way—there is a prescription for it. You have to be modest, you have to be forbearing, you have to be deferential, you have to be understanding. —Philip Roth, American Pastoral, 1997
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.
Modest: Ever So Humble
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
Origin and Etymology of modest
Latin modestus moderate; akin to Latin modus measure
First Known Use: 1550
Synonym Discussion of modest
chaste, pure, modest, decent mean free from all taint of what is lewd or salacious. chaste primarily implies a refraining from acts or even thoughts or desires that are not virginal or not sanctioned by marriage vows <they maintained chaste relations>. pure differs from chaste in implying innocence and absence of temptation rather than control of one's impulses and actions <the pure of heart>. modest and decent apply especially to deportment and dress as outward signs of inward chastity or purity <preferred more modest swimsuits> <decent people didn't go to such movies>.
MODEST Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of modest for English Language Learners
: 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
MODEST Defined for Kids
Definition of modest for Students
1 : not overly proud or confident : not boastful <Though champion, he was a modest winner.>
2 : limited in size or amount <modest wealth>
3 : not showy <She lives in a modest house.>
4 : decent in thought, conduct, and dress
Seen and Heard
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