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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for diffidently

Historical Examples

  • "I am as inexpert with the gun as the rod," said I, diffidently.

    A Day's Ride

    Charles James Lever

  • "Her smile is very pleasing," submitted Martha, diffidently.

  • "I suspect not," said she, diffidently, and still blushing deeper.

  • "You've seen very little of our world," he said diffidently.

    The Colors of Space

    Marion Zimmer Bradley

  • It was Aura who diffidently suggested the plan they finally adopted.

    The Girl in the Golden Atom

    Raymond King Cummings

British Dictionary definitions for diffidently


  1. lacking self-confidence; timid; shy
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Derived Formsdiffidence, noundiffidently, 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

Word Origin and History for diffidently



mid-15c., from Latin diffidentem (nominative diffidens), present participle of diffidere (see diffidence). Related: Diffidently.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper