[dif-i-duh ns]


the quality or state of being diffident.

Origin of diffidence

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin diffīdentia mistrust, want of confidence. See diffident, -ence
Related formsnon·dif·fi·dence, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for diffidence

Historical Examples of diffidence

  • The youth sat down as directed, but reluctantly and with diffidence.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • At this point Wanhope hesitated with a kind of diffidence that was rather charming in him.

    Questionable Shapes

    William Dean Howells

  • Mr. Cruncher, with some diffidence, explained himself as meaning "Old Nick's."

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • His manner betrayed a curious mixture of diffidence and assurance.

    The Avenger

    E. Phillips Oppenheim

  • The diffidence of his tone proved startling to her by virtue of its unusualness.

    Mistress Wilding

    Rafael Sabatini

Word Origin and History for diffidence

c.1400, from Latin diffidentia "mistrust, distrust, want of confidence," from diffidere "to mistrust, lack confidence," from dis- "away" (see dis-) + fidere "to trust" (see faith). Modern sense is of "distrusting oneself" (1650s). The original sense was the opposite of confidence.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper