Share this entry

modest Syllabification: mod·est
Pronunciation: /ˈmädəst/

Definition of modest in English:


1Unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities or achievements: he was a very modest man, refusing to take any credit for the enterprise
More example sentences
  • He is a quiet, unassuming lad and so modest about his many talents.
  • He's modest about his achievements, self-effacing about his music and finds an old-fashioned dignity in hard work.
  • Despite the magnitude of her work, I find Kate surprisingly down to earth and genuinely modest about the achievements she will leave behind when she hands over the reins on her 65th birthday.
2(Of an amount, rate, or level of something) relatively moderate, limited, or small: drink modest amounts of alcohol employment growth was relatively modest
More example sentences
  • Let's find the relatively modest amounts needed to fund things people want, and let's do it without chopping away at other programs with an axe.
  • Australia has long had a remarkably good university system, and used relatively modest levels of public investment in higher education very effectively.
  • A relatively modest amount of money could fund programs that would have a significant impact on smoking in Canada and allow those looking to quit to find help.
moderate, fair, limited, tolerable, passable, adequate, satisfactory, acceptable, unexceptional
2.1(Of a place in which one lives, eats, or stays) not excessively large, elaborate, or expensive: we had bought a modest house
More example sentences
  • They take great pride in showing their houses, modest flats on the outside, but inside renovated kitchens and bathrooms and all the mod cons amongst the religious icons.
  • Our venue became too expensive for our modest means.
  • Through the darkness I could make out a modest, tan coloured house with an overgrown garden and grubby looking shudders drooping from the windows.
small, ordinary, simple, plain, humble, inexpensive, unostentatious, unpretentious
3(Of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, especially to avoid attracting sexual attention.
Example sentences
  • We see that one should look for a proper, modest woman to be his wife, in order to have an eternal loving relationship.
  • She tells him to find a pretty and modest girl whom he respects and to wait until he's through with college, because he's not half good enough for whoever the girl is.
  • In other words, nice girls are modest and demure.
3.1(Of clothing) not revealing or emphasizing the figure: modest dress means that hemlines must be below the knee
More example sentences
  • My mother showed up dressed in a modest skirt and jacket along with my little brothers, Robert and Connor.
  • Some were dressed in very modest gowns, while others were practically falling out of their bodices.
  • Finally, I was standing in my under garments and fumbled around in the twilight for some modest clothing.
decorous, decent, seemly, demure, proper


Mid 16th century: from French modeste, from Latin modestus 'keeping due measure', related to modus 'measure'.



Example sentences
  • He speaks so quietly and so modestly that it is hard to envisage him as the authoritative playmaker that he is.
  • The second set of tablets was given quietly and modestly, and they lasted eternally.
  • While the majority modestly said two, others laughed and admitted to drinking at least five cups of coffee.

Words that rhyme with modest


Definition of modest in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day doofus
Pronunciation: ˈduːfʌs
a stupid person