mod·​es·​ty ˈmä-də-stē How to pronounce modesty (audio)
: the quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities
She accepted the award with modesty.
: propriety in dress, speech, or conduct
The young man was known for his modesty.

Examples of modesty in a Sentence

She accepted the award with modesty. He is known for his modesty, an uncommon characteristic for a politician. There was no false modesty in her victory speech. the modesty of her clothing
Recent Examples on the Web This modesty had a genuine, even wholesome aspect: we were never pressured to get straight A’s, or any A’s; B’s were fine—there was no need to prove our intelligence. Mary Gaitskill, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024 But Rainbow, who has a modesty about him, needs to be more ferociously unleashed. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 21 Jan. 2024 Heated yet subtle and restrained, the piece’s 10 sections on a Latin text, lasting about 20 minutes in all, chart an intimate drama whose moments of grandeur are all the more effective given the overall modesty. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, 23 Nov. 2023 My estimation of both does not go beyond the most rigorous modesty. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 4 Sep. 2023 In a world of social media braying and relentless self-promotion, Holstein’s modesty is refreshing. Véronique Hyland, ELLE, 7 Sep. 2023 The modesty of Defa’s tone belies the power of his vision. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 15 Aug. 2023 Cloud out-acted these performers by doing almost nothing—a demonstration of the actor’s own modesty. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, 2 Aug. 2023 As a child growing up in India, I was entrenched in a conservative culture that prized female modesty. Purnima Mani, Good Housekeeping, 22 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'modesty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of modesty was in 1531

Dictionary Entries Near modesty

Cite this Entry

“Modesty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


mod·​es·​ty ˈmäd-ə-stē How to pronounce modesty (audio)
: the quality of being modest

More from Merriam-Webster on modesty

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