• WordNet 3.6
    • n diffidence lack of self-confidence
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Diffidence Distrust of one's self or one's own powers; lack of self-reliance; modesty; modest reserve; bashfulness. "It is good to speak on such questions with diffidence .""An Englishman's habitual diffidence and awkwardness of address."
    • Diffidence The state of being diffident; distrust; want of confidence; doubt of the power, ability, or disposition of others. "That affliction grew heavy upon me, and weighed me down even to a diffidence of God's mercy."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n diffidence Distrust; want of confidence in regard to anything; doubt of the ability or disposition of others.
    • n diffidence More especially, distrust of one's self; want of confidence in one's own ability, worth, or fitness; retiring disposition; modest reserve; shyness.
    • n diffidence Synonyms Modesty, Shyness, etc. (see bashfulness), fear, timidity, hesitation, apprehension.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Diffidence want of confidence: want of self-reliance: modesty: bashfulness
    • ***


  • John Henry Newman
    John Henry Newman
    “Ability hits the mark where presumption overshoots and diffidence falls short.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. diffidentia,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L., pr.p. of diffidĕre, to distrust—dif (= dis), neg., fīdĕre, to trust—fĭdes, faith.


In literature:

But even then it will be ever diffident and trembling, lest Thou should take away Thy hand, and they lose thereby their bread!
"The Grand Inquisitor" by Feodor Dostoevsky
But diffidence is much unworthy of the heart of Imogen.
"Imogen" by William Godwin
Tender and diffident as a woman!
"The Dream" by Emile Zola
He approaches the subject diffidently.
"Echoes of the War" by J. M. Barrie
He called off his dog, and apologised, with a not ungraceful mixture of diffidence and ease, for his intrusion.
"Night and Morning, Complete" by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
It is not the timid, the diffident, the cautious, that awaken apprehensions, but the forward, the fearless, the bold.
"Female Scripture Biographies, Vol. II" by Francis Augustus Cox
Occasionally, indeed, I did recall it for the moment, and cast a diffident conjecture as to whether Daisy also remembered.
"In the Valley" by Harold Frederic
I now think I made a great mistake in not accepting this offer, though I was honestly diffident about my knowledge of navigation.
"Ned Myers" by James Fenimore Cooper
His manner betrayed a curious mixture of diffidence and assurance.
"The Avenger" by E. Phillips Oppenheim
But say, that yellow-haired woman, she ain't a bit diffident, is she?
"The Spenders" by Harry Leon Wilson

In poetry:

So VIRTUE diffident of strength
Clings to RELIGION'S firmer aid,
And by RELIGION'S aid upheld
Endures calamity.
"Ode Written On The First Of December" by Robert Southey
And for this lofty and resonant parting
Thank you. Forgive me, I kiss you, oh hands
Of my neglected, my disregarded
Homeland, my diffidence, family, friends.
"A tall, strapping shot, you, considerate hunter..." by Boris Pasternak
O may I still with thankful heart enjoy
The various gifts indulgent heav'n bestows!
Nor let ungrateful diffidence destroy
The present good, with fears of future woes.
"Desiring a Cheerful Resignation to the Divine Will" by Ann Steele
One might in turn become less diffident,
Out of such mildew plucking neater mould
And spouting new orations of the cold.
One might. One might. But time will not relent.
"The Man Whose Pharynx Was Bad" by Wallace Stevens
When Heav'n, sweet Laura! form'd thy mind,
With genius and with taste refin'd,
As if the union were too bright,
It spread the veil of diffidence,
That ev'ry ray, at first intense,
Might shine as soft as lunar light.
"Lines To Miss L---- D----" by Sir John Carr
I am so diffident, I hardly care
To give advice to statesmen evident,
And yet, on this occasion, shall I dare
To offer them some small encouragement:
Let them forego their wrangles, curses, howls,
And strive to build a little place for fowls.
"The Builders" by C J Dennis

In news:

The scene which best displays this side of Ibsen 's prodigious talent in Aurora's production is Wilhelm's visit to the solitary John Gabriel, by turns diffident, problematic and strangely humorous.
Cheerfully diffident, garrulous yet uninflected, blithely self-absorbed, the mumblecore brand proliferates: Last year's star vehicles Greenberg and Cyrus introduced the concept of mega- mumble .
I fail to see that Burt 's position of diffident and belated (perhaps even reluctant) opposition to HSR got Palo Alto ANYTHING.
In June, a diffident and self-deluded President Obama claimed that "the private sector is doing fine".
Her edgy voice is diffident and biting, yet it is also exaggerated and blasé, replete with sarcastic asides and characterizations that sound witty but unintentionally raise the question of whether she might be prone to prevarication .