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[mod-ist] /ˈmɒd ɪst/
having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one's merits, importance, etc.; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions.
free from ostentation or showy extravagance:
a modest house.
having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech, dress, etc.; decent:
a modest neckline on a dress.
limited or moderate in amount, extent, etc.:
a modest increase in salary.
Origin of modest
1555-65; < Latin modestus restrained, decorous, equivalent to modes- (stem of *modus, an s-stem akin to modus mode1, perhaps < *medos, with the vowel of modus; compare moderārī to moderate, from the same noun stem) + -tus adj. suffix
Related forms
modestly, adverb
hypermodest, adjective
hypermodestly, adverb
hypermodestness, noun
overmodest, adjective
overmodestly, adverb
pseudomodest, adjective
pseudomodestly, adverb
quasi-modest, adjective
quasi-modestly, adverb
supermodest, adjective
supermodestly, adverb
unmodest, adjective
unmodestly, adverb
1. retiring, unassuming. 1, 2. unpretentious, unobtrusive. 3. pure, virtuous. Modest, demure, prudish imply conformity to propriety and decorum, and a distaste for anything coarse or loud. Modest implies a becoming shyness, sobriety, and proper behavior: a modest, self-respecting person. Demure implies a bashful, quiet simplicity, staidness, and decorum; but can also indicate an assumed or affected modesty: a demure young chorus girl. Prudish suggests an exaggeratedly self-conscious modesty or propriety in behavior or conversation of one who wishes to be thought of as easily shocked and who often is intolerant: a prudish objection to a harmless remark.
3. bold, coarse. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for over-modest
Historical Examples
  • You're not so over-modest, and when it is a question of your whole future life——or, can it be?

    A Noble Name Claire Von Glmer
  • We are not often accused of modesty—but we are over-modest, are we not?

  • He was unspeakably good and gentle, forgave injuries, and was over-modest.

  • In regard to this young woman, the Florence whom he had loved, he had been over-modest.

    Mr. Scarborough's Family Anthony Trollope
  • "I fear you are over-modest, Captain," was all the reply I got; and then my kindly host fell amuse.

    The Master of Appleby

    Francis Lynde
  • This act of self-effacement accurately paints the character of the over-modest man.

    Wagner as I Knew Him Ferdinand Christian Wilhelm Praeger
  • Gypsum was over-modest and too conscientious; he had only a trifle of money, and was careless of his attire.

    Campaigns of a Non-Combatant, George Alfred Townsend
  • Philadelphia has always been over-modest as to its personal appearance,—always on the surface, indifferent to flattery.

    Our Philadelphia Elizabeth Robins Pennell
  • The over-modest feeling some people have that they know nothing to talk about is usually a false impression.

    Public Speaking Clarence Stratton
  • Here, surely, Poe is over-modest; at least he over-states the case against himself.

    Inquiries and Opinions Brander Matthews
British Dictionary definitions for over-modest


having or expressing a humble opinion of oneself or one's accomplishments or abilities
reserved or shy: modest behaviour
not ostentatious or pretentious
not extreme or excessive; moderate
decorous or decent
Derived Forms
modestly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: via Old French from Latin modestus moderate, from modusmode
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 over-modest



1560s, "having moderate self-regard," from Middle French modeste (14c.), from Latin modestus "keeping due measure" (see modesty). Of women, "not improper or lewd," 1590s; of female attire, 1610s. Of demands, etc., c.1600. Related: Modestly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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