self-ef·​fac·​ing ˌself-i-ˈfā-siŋ How to pronounce self-effacing (audio)
: having or showing a tendency to make oneself modestly or shyly inconspicuous
His passions and faith run soul-deep, his gentle wit is always self-effacing and never insulting …Don Gaetz
… she was an extremely self-effacing, private person who never sought the limelight and did not leave the usual artifacts that enable a biographer to reconstruct life patterns.Douglas R. McManis

Examples of self-effacing in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This was the father A.J. remembered from before Trump’s presidency: witty, self-effacing, less interested in politics than a punchline. Eli Saslow Erin Schaff, New York Times, 19 Nov. 2023 Throughout Tomorrow’s Fire, Williams sounds strategically self-effacing while also cradling a quiet, growing inner certainty. Leah Lu, Rolling Stone, 12 Oct. 2023 Consider this roundup of tone-perfecting, pore-obscuring, self-effacing winners our way of celebrating the cover-ups that no makeup pro (or makeup bag) could possibly do without. Don't miss the next big beauty sale. Liana Schaffner, Allure, 21 Sep. 2023 The film moves between the 1930s sequences, conventionally shot, and the scenes with Hopkins as the self-effacing older Winton recalling those years. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Sep. 2023 Anderson’s presence is sublimated, as was typical of the style of The New Yorker under William Shawn’s editorship, and typical, too, of Anderson’s own style: self-effacing, to an unusual degree. Jonathan Lethem, The New Yorker, 21 Aug. 2023 Moreover, the soft-spoken, self-effacing nonagenarian is still at it, determined to capture the whimsy of nature on canvas, whatever the weather. Mike Klingaman, Baltimore Sun, 17 Aug. 2023 The upshot is that the self-effacing champion of the vernacular owes his career to one of Mexico’s richest families. Justin Davidson, Curbed, 20 Apr. 2023 There’s no drama in Jocelyn’s performance to make such perfectly silly and self-effacing lyrics work well — like how Lady Gaga’s Ally in A Star Is Born made the fictional singer’s vapid pop turn still feel marketable, if over-the-top even by Gaga pop song standards. Brittany Spanos, Rolling Stone, 2 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'self-effacing.' 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

1854, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of self-effacing was in 1854

Dictionary Entries Near self-effacing

Cite this Entry

“Self-effacing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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