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[mod-uh-stee] /ˈmɒd ə sti/
noun, plural modesties.
the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.
regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
simplicity; moderation.
Origin of modesty
1525-35; < Latin modestia. See modest, -y3
Related forms
overmodesty, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for modesty
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They had put it down to modesty, yet the words might have been correct.

    The Disputed V.C. Frederick P. Gibbon
  • Your modesty always stands in the way of your happiness for a while: but you are no losers by it.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • But she is only cast into a slight shadow by these veils of decency and modesty; and so Truth should show her matronly bearing.

  • The connection of dress with warmth and modesty is derived and remote.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • The man who is ostentatious of his modesty is twin to the statue that wears a fig-leaf.

    Following the Equator, Complete Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
British Dictionary definitions for modesty


noun (pl) -ties
the quality or condition of being modest
(modifier) designed to prevent inadvertent exposure of part of the body: a 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
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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
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