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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for diffidently
Historical Examples
  • "Her smile is very pleasing," submitted Martha, diffidently.

    The Daltons, Volume II (of II) Charles James Lever
  • It was Aura who diffidently suggested the plan they finally adopted.

    The Girl in the Golden Atom Raymond King Cummings
  • Mademoiselle, please do not think that I mean to intrude, I said diffidently, when I had come to her side.

    The Wasted Generation Owen Johnson
  • "I am as inexpert with the gun as the rod," said I, diffidently.

    A Day's Ride Charles James Lever
  • The parson havent said nothin, but Tibbies got a notion that hes wonderful fond o canned peaches, Jonathan ventured, diffidently.

    Every Man for Himself Norman Duncan
  • "I suspect not," said she, diffidently, and still blushing deeper.

    The Bramleighs Of Bishop's Folly Charles James Lever
  • Finally, they rested, floating, and Charles diffidently related what was in his heart.

    The Bright Shawl Joseph Hergesheimer
  • "You've seen very little of our world," he said diffidently.

    The Colors of Space Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • "I don't think, for my part, I should wish to be so old as that," diffidently returned Harold.

    The Quiver 3/1900 Anonymous
  • "I hear that O'Meara called on you to-day," he said diffidently.

    The Celebrity, Complete Winston Churchill
British Dictionary definitions for diffidently


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 diffidently



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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