Definition of diffident in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdɪfɪd(ə)nt/


Modest or shy because of a lack of self-confidence: a diffident youth
More example sentences
  • He made sure that his furniture received the maximum publicity at international fairs, although he came across as a surprisingly diffident and modest man.
  • Emotionally diffident, he lacks the physical and dramatic force to invest the role with heroism.
  • He looked rather sheepish and diffident, hands in pockets and a nervous grin on his face.
shy, bashful, modest, self-effacing, unassuming, unpresuming, humble, meek, unconfident, unassertive, timid, timorous, shrinking, reserved, withdrawn, introverted, inhibited;
insecure, self-doubting, doubtful, wary, unsure, apprehensive, uncertain, hesitant, nervous, reluctant, fearful;
self-conscious, ill at ease, ashamed, abashed, embarrassed, shamefaced, sheepish;
Scottish  mim
informal mousy



Pronunciation: /ˈdɪfɪd(ə)ntli/
Example sentences
  • ‘I think it shows someone romantic, really,’ he says diffidently.
  • During the course of the conversation it was suggested somewhat diffidently that I might like to join the Labour party, for whose candidates I have never failed to vote.
  • ‘Today I'm not wanting to go into past controversies,’ he said, looking diffidently at the floor.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'lacking confidence or trust in someone or something'): from Latin diffident- 'failing in trust', from the verb diffidere, from dis- (expressing reversal) + fidere 'to trust'.

  • faith from Middle English:

    Both faith and fidelity (Late Middle English) come from the Latin word fides. Fido, a traditional name for a dog, is also related—it represents the Latin for ‘I trust’. Other words from the same source include confident (late 16th century), confide (Late Middle English), and diffident (Late Middle English) which originally meant ‘lacking in trust’. Fiancée, the French for ‘promised’, which goes back to fides is related. See also infidel

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dif|fi¦dent

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