lacking confidence in one's own ability, worth, or fitness; timid; shy.
restrained or reserved in manner, conduct, etc.
Archaic. distrustful.

Origin of diffident

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 formsdif·fi·dent·ly, adverbdif·fi·dent·ness, nounnon·dif·fi·dent, adjectivenon·dif·fi·dent·ly, adverbun·dif·fi·dent, adjectiveun·dif·fi·dent·ly, adverb

Synonyms for diffident

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for diffident

Contemporary Examples of diffident

Historical Examples of diffident

  • 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.


    Charles James Lever

  • Edith, funny and diffident, now rose and addressed the class.

British Dictionary definitions for diffident



lacking self-confidence; timid; shy
Derived Formsdiffidence, noundiffidently, adverb

Word Origin for diffident

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

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