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[dif-i-duh nt] /ˈdɪf ɪ dənt/
lacking confidence in one's own ability, worth, or fitness; timid; shy.
restrained or reserved in manner, conduct, etc.
Archaic. distrustful.
Origin of diffident
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English < Latin diffīdent- (stem of diffīdēns mistrusting, despairing, present participle of diffīdere), equivalent to dif- dif- + fīd- trust + -ent- -ent
Related forms
diffidently, adverb
diffidentness, noun
nondiffident, adjective
nondiffidently, adverb
undiffident, adjective
undiffidently, adverb
1. self-conscious, self-effacing, abashed, embarrassed, modest, unassuming, unconfident. See shy1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for diffident
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The diffident took heart before him, and the presumptuous were checked.

  • She spoke with diffident slowness, her gaze fastened upon her plate.

    The Market-Place Harold Frederic
  • The tone of his voice, now soft and diffident, startled Hardy out of his dream.

    Hidden Water Dane Coolidge
  • Barrington was the most diffident of men; his bashfulness amounted to actual pain.

    Barrington Charles James Lever
  • Edith, funny and diffident, now rose and addressed the class.

  • But you forget how diffident M. de Bois is, how distrustful of his own merits.

    Fairy Fingers Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie
  • Denison, in a diffident manner, said that he had not exactly had much.

  • It was so faint and diffident a knock, no wonder it passed unheeded.

    The Dop Doctor

    Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
British Dictionary definitions for diffident


lacking self-confidence; timid; shy
Derived Forms
diffidence, noun
diffidently, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin diffīdere to distrust, from dis- not + fīdere to trust
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for diffident

mid-15c., from Latin diffidentem (nominative diffidens), present participle of diffidere (see diffidence). Related: Diffidently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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