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[dif-i-duh nt] /ˈdɪf ɪ dənt/
lacking confidence in one's own ability, worth, or fitness; timid; shy.
restrained or reserved in manner, conduct, etc.
Archaic. distrustful.
Origin of diffident
late Middle English
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 forms
diffidently, adverb
diffidentness, noun
nondiffident, adjective
nondiffidently, adverb
undiffident, adjective
undiffidently, adverb
1. self-conscious, self-effacing, abashed, embarrassed, modest, unassuming, unconfident. See shy1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for diffident
  • Yet, despite the bragging, it seemed to me a diffident and unconfident performance.
  • She's more reserved and diffident, he's a chatterbox.
  • He has attracted many students from the fringe of prejudice who for various reasons felt diffident about the other race.
  • By her admission, she was a diffident student in school, and "not confident enough in my facts and figures" to lead any causes.
  • Sometimes the interaction produces diffident, (apparently) submissive women who scurry to obey the men's commands.
  • But the government has remained diffident.
  • He became more diffident in manner, less direct and challenging as he aged.
  • But there was nothing modest or diffident about her ambitions.
  • He is diffident to a fault.
  • One wishes occasionally for a slightly less diffident treatment of his verbal genius.
British Dictionary definitions for diffident


lacking self-confidence; timid; shy
Derived Forms
diffidence, noun
diffidently, 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
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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
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