noun, plural mod·es·ties.

the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.
regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
simplicity; moderation.

Origin of modesty

From the Latin word modestia, dating back to 1525–35. See modest, -y3
Related formso·ver·mod·est·y, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for modesty

Contemporary Examples of modesty

Historical Examples of modesty

  • All shall be imputed to that modesty which has ever so much distinguished you.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • There was a modesty in Bowser's tone that gave me a better opinion of him.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • She was quite honest, and she served her father's customers with modesty.

  • If you will force my modesty to the confession I believe in my heart that it is a sapphire.

  • She sobbed, and with a sudden feeling of modesty freed her wrists from his grasp.

British Dictionary definitions for modesty


noun plural -ties

the quality or condition of being modest
(modifier) designed to prevent inadvertent exposure of part of the bodya modesty flap
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 modesty

1530s, "freedom from exaggeration, self-control," from Middle French modestie or directly from Latin modestia "moderation, sense of honor, correctness of conduct," from modestus "moderate, keeping measure, sober, gentle, temperate," from modus "measure, manner" (see mode (n.1)). Meaning "quality of having a moderate opinion of oneself" is from 1550s; that of "womanly propriety" is from 1560s.

La pudeur donne des plaisirs bien flatteurs à l'amant: elle lui fait sentir quelles lois l'on transgresse pour lui; (Modesty both pleases and flatters a lover, for it lays stress on the laws which are being transgressed for his sake.) [Stendhal "de l'Amour," 1822]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper