Definition of diffident in English:



  • Modest or shy because of a lack of self-confidence.

    ‘a diffident youth’
    • ‘The tenor in these passages is definitive and assertive, quite at odds with the unassuming, almost diffident, tone of the rest of the book.’
    • ‘With diffident reluctance, she rose from her seat and went to where her outer robe hung; a wooden peg set in the near wall.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I am blaming the fact it's St George's day for my refusal to complain - what could be more English than feeling too diffident to complain about receiving an awful haircut?’
    • ‘After reading her views on the debate, it makes me wish I had something weighty or political to say, but I'm a little diffident about the whole thing.’
    • ‘With no one to listen to them, they get trapped in their problems and grow up diffident and unsure of their abilities.’
    • ‘For those who are rather diffident about facing a public examination, there are helpful ‘proxy writers’ available.’
    • ‘A champion of women's education in the truly liberal sense, he helped many a shy diffident young woman face the academic world.’
    • ‘Ironic, too, that he's diffident to the point of sheepishness, even in front of the most adoring audience.’
    • ‘He was as diffident as you would expect, and, as with most famous people, my main thought upon seeing him in the flesh was that he looked just like he does on television.’
    • ‘Far from being arrogant, today's doctors are diffident and afflicted by insecurity and self-doubt.’
    • ‘You become anxious, and this in turn causes you to become diffident, which consequently kills your body's alacrity.’
    • ‘She is neither diffident nor boastful about this fact.’
    • ‘They are, with good reason, less diffident and less fearful.’
    • ‘Thirty years later he is still embarrassed or diffident every time he is confronted with even a simple practical task.’
    • ‘And his diffident manner should not be mistaken for a lack of energy.’
    • ‘He made sure that his furniture received the maximum publicity at international fairs, although he came across as a surprisingly diffident and modest man.’
    • ‘Dating agencies were once sniggered at as the last resort of those too diffident, dull or undesirable to find a partner in the normal course of their social life.’
    • ‘Far from being diffident, gratulatory or admiring, patients may bubble with entitlement, seethe with rage and insist on constant approval.’
    shy, bashful, modest, self-effacing, unassuming, unpresuming, humble, meek, unconfident, unassertive, timid, timorous, shrinking, reserved, withdrawn, introverted, inhibited
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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’.