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[mod-uh-stee] /ˈmɒd ə sti/
noun, plural modesties.
the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.
regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
simplicity; moderation.
Origin of modesty
From the Latin word modestia, dating back to 1525-35. See modest, -y3
Related forms
overmodesty, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for modesty
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • All shall be imputed to that modesty which has ever so much distinguished you.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • There was a modesty in Bowser's tone that gave me a better opinion of him.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • She was quite honest, and she served her father's customers with modesty.

    The Hunted Outlaw Anonymous
  • If you will force my modesty to the confession I believe in my heart that it is a sapphire.

  • She sobbed, and with a sudden feeling of modesty freed her wrists from his grasp.

British Dictionary definitions for modesty


noun (pl) -ties
the quality or condition of being modest
(modifier) designed to prevent inadvertent exposure of part of the body: a modesty flap
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 modesty

1530s, "freedom from exaggeration, self-control," from Middle French modestie or directly from Latin modestia "moderation, sense of honor, correctness of conduct," from modestus "moderate, keeping measure, sober, gentle, temperate," from modus "measure, manner" (see mode (n.1)). Meaning "quality of having a moderate opinion of oneself" is from 1550s; that of "womanly propriety" is from 1560s.

La pudeur donne des plaisirs bien flatteurs à l'amant: elle lui fait sentir quelles lois l'on transgresse pour lui; (Modesty both pleases and flatters a lover, for it lays stress on the laws which are being transgressed for his sake.) [Stendhal "de l'Amour," 1822]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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