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See more synonyms for modest on Thesaurus.com
  1. having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one's merits, importance, etc.; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions.
  2. free from ostentation or showy extravagance: a modest house.
  3. having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech, dress, etc.; decent: a modest neckline on a dress.
  4. limited or moderate in amount, extent, etc.: a modest increase in salary.
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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 formsmod·est·ly, adverbhy·per·mod·est, adjectivehy·per·mod·est·ly, adverbhy·per·mod·est·ness, nouno·ver·mod·est, adjectiveo·ver·mod·est·ly, adverbpseu·do·mod·est, adjectivepseu·do·mod·est·ly, adverbqua·si-mod·est, adjectivequa·si-mod·est·ly, adverbsu·per·mod·est, adjectivesu·per·mod·est·ly, adverbun·mod·est, adjectiveun·mod·est·ly, adverb

Synonyms for modest

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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.

Antonyms for modest

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

Related Words for modest

prudent, simple, humble, quiet, unassuming, moderate, inexpensive, reasonable, small, bashful, blushing, chaste, coy, demure, diffident, discreet, lowly, meek, nice, proper

Examples from the Web for modest

Contemporary Examples of modest

Historical Examples of modest

  • The face, neck, and arms of the modest maiden were flushed with indignant crimson.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Our hero listened with modest pleasure while it was being read.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Tell you what the trouble is with you, old man: you're too modest.

  • He's as boyishly honest as if he were sixteen; and as modest.

  • Few could imagine from his modest exterior the latent, fire and energy which burn in his bosom.


    Scian Dubh

British Dictionary definitions for modest


  1. having or expressing a humble opinion of oneself or one's accomplishments or abilities
  2. reserved or shymodest behaviour
  3. not ostentatious or pretentious
  4. not extreme or excessive; moderate
  5. decorous or decent
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Derived Formsmodestly, adverb

Word Origin for modest

C16: via Old French from Latin modestus moderate, from modus mode
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 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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper