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Diffident

adjective
1.
Showing modest reserve.
2.
Lacking self-confidence.  Synonyms: shy, timid, unsure.  "Problems that call for bold not timid responses" , "A very unsure young man"






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Diffident" Quotes from Famous Books



... I have met with in the books of the Peripateticks, and the pretty experiments that have been shew'd me in the Laboratories of Chymists, I am of so diffident, or dull a Nature, as to think that if neither of them can bring more cogent arguments to evince the truth of their assertion then are wont to be brought; a Man may rationally enough retain some doubts concerning the very number of those materiall Ingredients of mixt bodies, which some ...
— The Sceptical Chymist • Robert Boyle

... the PANTHI. The first person I met in the boardinghouse compound was the scholarly Romesh. As though his days were quite free, he obligingly agreed to my diffident request. ...
— Autobiography of a YOGI • Paramhansa Yogananda

... over my senses, must still see, hear, and remember. Emma is spoiled by being the cleverest of her family. At ten years old, she had the misfortune of being able to answer questions which puzzled her sister at seventeen. She was always quick and assured: Isabella slow and diffident. And ever since she was twelve, Emma has been mistress of the house and of you all. In her mother she lost the only person able to cope with her. She inherits her mother's talents, and must have been under ...
— Persuasion • Jane Austen

... the night, had had beer at the Shovel, and (Nuppie and Albert being safely asleep in the second cabin) had met at supper that my instructions had been fully grasped. Thomas himself was inclined to be diffident, and had it not been for Ada would, I think, have let my offer slide. She was enthusiastic. It was she who told me of the cottage they had at Fenny Stratford, which they used as headquarters ...
— Not George Washington - An Autobiographical Novel • P. G. Wodehouse

... Scrope Berdmore Davies. Hobhouse is also very good in that line, though it is of less consequence to a man who has other ways of showing his talents than in company. Scrope was always ready and often witty—Hobhouse as witty, but not always so ready, being more diffident."—MS. ...
— Life of Lord Byron, Vol. II - With His Letters and Journals • Thomas Moore

... taste for a certain modern style of poetry in my companion, I bethought me of a poem which I had written on the roadside a few days before, and which, I confess, I was eager to confide to some sympathetic ear. I was diffident of quoting it after such lines as Rosalind had recalled, but by the time we had reached our coffee, I plucked up courage to mention it. I had, however, the less diffidence in that it would have a technical interest ...
— The Quest of the Golden Girl • Richard le Gallienne

... was very bashful and diffident, and scarcely dared recite before his class at school, but he determined to become an orator. So he committed speeches and recited them in the cornfields, or in the barn with the horse and cows for ...
— Architects of Fate - or, Steps to Success and Power • Orison Swett Marden

... So, true to his diffident nature, Malcolm walked to the other end of Addison's Walk; then something seemed to drag at him, and he retraced his steps slowly and reluctantly; finally, as though constrained by some unseen power that overmastered his reserve, he sat down on ...
— Herb of Grace • Rosa Nouchette Carey

... day, seemed changed: his manner became, though not less tender, yet more respectful and diffident—his bosom felt a throb it had till now not known, in the society of Rosamund—and, if he was less familiar with her than in former times, that charm of delicacy had superadded a grace to Rosamund, which, ...
— The Works of Charles Lamb in Four Volumes, Volume 4 • Charles Lamb

... kind that untoward things happen. My sister gave a "candy-pull" on a winter's night. I was too young to be of the company, and Jim was too diffident. I was sent up to bed early, and Jim followed of his own motion. His room was in the new part of the house, and his window looked out on the roof of the L annex. That roof was six inches deep in snow, and the snow had an ice-crust upon it which was as slick as glass. Out of the ...
— Chapters from My Autobiography • Mark Twain

... me to her, as Lilly's new nurse. She looked so kind and gracious, I thought I should have sunk at her feet, to beg her to bless her child. I could not speak, and papa apologized for me by saying that I was very diffident, but that Lilly seemed to take to me, and he hoped I would do well; and then she smiled on me, and I took that ...
— Stories of Many Lands • Grace Greenwood

... of the man, many of them supported Nicias. For his was not that sort of gravity which is harsh and offensive, but he tempered it with a certain caution and deference, winning upon the people, by seeming afraid of them. And being naturally diffident and unhopeful in war, his good fortune supplied his want of courage, and kept it from being detected, as in all his commands he was constantly successful. And his timorousness in civil life, and his extreme dread of accusers, was thought very suitable in a citizen of ...
— Plutarch's Lives • A.H. Clough

... was a peculiarly reserved and quiet person, with a manner habitually deliberate and measured, a low, subdued voice, and rather diffident hesitation in expressing herself: and she certainly conveyed the impression of natural reticence and caution. But so far from ever appearing to me to justify the description often given of her, of a person of exceptionally ...
— Records of a Girlhood • Frances Anne Kemble

... brought to Baird's liking. Slowly, because Merton Gill at first proved to be diffident at the crisis. For three rehearsals the muscular arm of Miss Montague had most of the clenching to do. He believed he was being rough and masterful, but Baird wished a greater show of violence. They had also to time this scene with the surreptitious entrance of the brother, ...
— Merton of the Movies • Harry Leon Wilson

... with all a youth's solemnity of "a hurt of the heart uncurable." And from that time forward there is ever some "Faire Mayde" to be seen in the shadow. In fact, Washington got along with women much better than with men; with men he was often diffident and awkward, illy concealing his uneasiness behind a forced dignity; but he knew that women admired him, and with them he was at ease. When he made that first Western trip, carrying a message to the French, he turns aside to call on the Indian princess, Aliguippa. In his ...
— Little Journeys To the Homes of the Great, Volume 3 (of 14) • Elbert Hubbard

... are the only men who appear completely happy; for what can he want to a complete happy life who relies on his own good qualities, or how can he be happy who does not rely on them? But he who makes a threefold division of goods must necessarily be diffident, for how can he depend on having a sound body, or that his fortune shall continue? but no one can be happy without an immovable, fixed, and permanent good. What, then, is this opinion of theirs? So that I think that saying of the Spartan may be applied ...
— The Academic Questions • M. T. Cicero

... for myself, and liked me still more, perhaps, for the strange resemblance which he said I bore to some dear one whom he had lost many years before. Of George Strickland, too, I was very fond, but with a shy and diffident sort of liking. I held him as so superior to me in every way that I could only worship him from a distance. The Major fetched me over to Rose Cottage several times. Such events were for me holidays in the true sense of the word. Another source of happiness ...
— The Argosy - Vol. 51, No. 2, February, 1891 • Various

... man who only looks to the present, who hopes by staving off a crisis till Tuesday that something fresh will "turn up" by Wednesday. He was disposed, from the very first, to distrust and to waylay the plans of Raleigh. We are told, and can well believe it, that he was "diffident" of Sir Walter's designs. He was uncomfortable in the presence of that breezy "man of desperate fortunes." A very excellent example of the opposition of the two types is offered by the discussion about the golden city of Manoa. Raleigh believed, and after ...
— Some Diversions of a Man of Letters • Edmund William Gosse

... possessed a mind of no common order; and hers was a character in which simplicity and strength, originality and refinement, were beautifully blended: diffident and retiring, she was best appreciated where she ...
— A Brief Memoir with Portions of the Diary, Letters, and Other Remains, - of Eliza Southall, Late of Birmingham, England • Eliza Southall

... of Louis Fifteenth's only son, the dead Dauphin, ascended the throne of France in his twentieth year, a pure-minded, honourable young fellow, full of good intentions, and sincerely anxious for the well-being of his people; but of a diffident temper, timid, hesitating, and uncertain in decision, and under the influence of his young consort, the beautiful Queen Marie Antoinette, who had the imperious temper of her house, wedded to light and frivolous manners; she brought to her counsels a deplorable lack of judgment ...
— Vigee Le Brun • Haldane MacFall

... made it to be understood, that, in the delusion of this amiable error, you had gone further than your wise ancestors,—that you were resolved to resume your ancient privileges, whilst you preserved the spirit of your ancient and your recent loyalty and honor; or if, diffident of yourselves, and not clearly discerning the almost obliterated Constitution of your ancestors, you had looked to your neighbors in this land, who had kept alive the ancient principles and models of the old common law of Europe, meliorated and adapted to its present state,—by ...
— The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. III. (of 12) • Edmund Burke

... that foreshadowed his future work. When 'Looking Backward' was the sensation of the year, a newspaper charge brought against Mr. Bellamy was that he was "posing for notoriety." To those who know the retiring, modest, and almost diffident personality of the author, nothing could have been more absurd. All opportunities to make money upon the magnificent advertising given by a phenomenal literary success were disregarded. There were offers ...
— Looking Backward - 2000-1887 • Edward Bellamy

... of the great revolving-drum on Calais pier that nightly beams half-way over-sea to England.' And the moon shone clear in the southern heaven that morning, like a great old dying queen whose Court swarms distantly from around her, diffident, pale, and tremulous, the paler the nearer; and I could see the mountain-shadows on her spotty full-face, and her misty aureole, and her lights on the sea, as it were kisses stolen in the kingdom of sleep; and all among the quiet ships mysterious white trails and powderings of light, like ...
— The Purple Cloud • M.P. Shiel

... gentry who had been confident that the goodwill of the bulk of their own class was sufficient support to the Southern cause. Early in the war one little Southern society had indeed been organized, but on so diffident a basis as almost to escape notice. This was the London Confederate States Aid Association which came to the attention of Adams and his friends in December, 1862, through the attendance at an early meeting of one, W.A. Jackson ("Jefferson Davis' ex-coachman"), ...
— Great Britain and the American Civil War • Ephraim Douglass Adams

... said, 'You will be tried and judged there, not as a boy, but as a man; and from that moment there is no appeal for character.' Lord Chesterfield's Letters, iii. 324. Addison in the Guardian, No. 98, had said that 'men of the best sense are always diffident of their private judgment, till it receives a sanction from the public. Provoco ad populum, I appeal to the people, was the usual saying of a very excellent dramatic poet, when he had any disputes with particular persons about the justness and regularity ...
— Life Of Johnson, Vol. 1 • Boswell

... high amongst her schoolmates. Whereas now, if she tried to talk of art or books, she was hotly aware that everything she said was, in John's eyes, pretentious or absurd. He was comparing her with others all the time, with men and women—women especially—in whose presence he felt himself as diffident as she did in his. He was thinking of ladies in velvet dresses and diamonds, who could talk wittily of pictures and theatres and books, who could amuse him and distract him. And meanwhile she went ...
— Fenwick's Career • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... bearing; he was genial, conversational, and well-meaning. But he had some sort of blindness towards his fellow-men, so that he never entirely grasped the spirit of everyday life, so that he, who was so copiously intelligent in the things of the study, misunderstood, blundered, was nervously diffident, and wilful and spasmodic in common affairs, in employment and buying and selling, and the normal conflicts of intercourse. He did not know what would offend, and he did not know what would please. He irritated others and thwarted himself. He ...
— The House of Cobwebs and Other Stories • George Gissing

... in an easy-chair near the window, doing nothing, when I marched in to begin the siege. I felt diffident and uneasy, although I am not usually troubled that way. But if I should live to the advanced age of Methusaleh, I could never forget Mrs. Pinkerton's appearance on that memorable occasion. Before I had spoken ...
— That Mother-in-Law of Mine • Anonymous

... kinder took with 'em, and sez he, "How handy that would be, Samantha, if a man wuz diffident, and every man, no matter how bashful he is, has more or less wood chips in his back yard. Sometimes I ...
— Around the World with Josiah Allen's Wife • Marietta Holley

... who from natural disposition, or early training, or both, is mild, diffident, and gentle. So far he is an estimable character. Were this all, he were not a muff. In order to deserve that title he must be timid and unenthusiastic. He must refuse to venture anything that will subject him to danger, however ...
— The Gorilla Hunters • R.M. Ballantyne

... of this silence-loving and shade-seeking side of his character is doubtless exaggerated, and, in so far as it points to him as a sombre and sinister figure, is almost ludicrously at fault. He was silent, diffident, more inclined to hesitate, to watch and wait and meditate, than to produce himself, and fonder, on almost any occasion, of being absent than of being present. This quality betrays itself in all his writings. There is in all of them something cold and light and thin, something belonging to the ...
— Hawthorne - (English Men of Letters Series) • Henry James, Junr.

... forward, immodest, rude, hoidenish, brazen, saucy, insolent, unabashed, audacious, pert, shameless, malapert; conspicuous, prominent, salient; steep, abrupt, precipitous, acclivitous, jagged. Antonyms: modest, bashful, diffident, coy, shy, timid, retiring. ...
— Putnam's Word Book • Louis A. Flemming

... atomic energy that Holsten had opened for mankind. While he planned entrenchments and invasions and a frontier war, the Central European generalship was striking at the eyes and the brain. And while, with a certain diffident hesitation, he developed his gambit that night upon the lines laid down by Napoleon and Moltke, his own scientific corps in a state of mutinous activity was preparing a blow for Berlin. 'These old fools!' was the key in which the scientific corps ...
— The World Set Free • Herbert George Wells

... them were amazingly patronising and self-possessed, and these did not ask Cicely to dance again. She felt, when they returned her to her mother, that she had not been a success with them. Others were boyish and diffident, and with them she got on pretty well. With one, a modest child of nineteen or so with a high-sounding title, she was almost maternally friendly, and he seemed to cling to her as a refuge from a new and bewildering world. They ate ices together—he ...
— The Squire's Daughter - Being the First Book in the Chronicles of the Clintons • Archibald Marshall

... helpful suggestion in this advice. The way to learn to talk is to talk. The temptation for people who are unaccustomed to society, and who feel diffident, is to say nothing themselves and listen to what ...
— Pushing to the Front • Orison Swett Marden

... sense of parental responsibility, but has inspired them with ambitions, though not for themselves. For themselves they are conscious of a want of that book-learned culture which the practice of their skilled crafts cannot bestow, and this makes them suspicious of those who have it and diffident in conversation with them. But underneath this reticence and willingness to hear dwells a quiet scepticism which has no docility in it, and is not to be persuaded out of its way by any eloquence or any ...
— Change in the Village • (AKA George Bourne) George Sturt

... made her acquaintance at a workman's hotel where she was engaged, when he was differently situated, and he fancied that she was diffident about recalling the fact, now that he ...
— Vane of the Timberlands • Harold Bindloss

... him that he had not noticed it at first, the almost Hanoverian purity of her speech and the freedom with which she spoke. The average peasant is diffident, with a vocabulary of few words, ignorant of art or music ...
— The Goose Girl • Harold MacGrath

... take her long to find Mr. Turner's number. She had never been there before, and had never met Mr. Turner, and naturally felt a little diffident about going into the office. It was on the second floor. She went up the stairway, and timidly entered. She looked about her, but Rufus was not to be seen. At first no one noticed her; but finally a clerk, with a pen behind his ear, came out from behind ...
— Rufus and Rose - The Fortunes of Rough and Ready • Horatio Alger, Jr

... know of," said Jack. "But you have forgotten a somewhat diffident and reserved young man with whom you were conversing in ...
— The Wedge of Gold • C. C. Goodwin

... "I am diffident of my powers in the line of composition," said Ferguson. "I shouldn't be afraid to undertake local items, but when it comes to an elaborate editorial, I should rather leave it ...
— Risen from the Ranks - Harry Walton's Success • Horatio Alger, Jr.

... declaration against France, that it is not easy to account for the different line which he pursues; it must, however, be attributed to the influence of the very weak persons who are in familiar confidence with him, and to his being too diffident in himself to decide upon the important measure of engaging Prussia in war. I am, however, inclined to believe that such will at last be his decision, though there is too much hesitation in his own ...
— Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George the Third, Volume 2 (of 2) - From the Original Family Documents • The Duke of Buckingham

... talk of such men was often apt to be over his head, as it would have been over mine, and often made him painfully diffident and shy. He needn't have been; he little knew the kind of feeling he inspired among the highest ...
— The Martian • George Du Maurier

... therefore, you see, very good reasons for raising humility into the rank of virtue. An amiable modesty, a diffident mildness of demeanor, are unquestionably calculated to promote the pleasures and the advantages of society; it is equally certain that insolence and arrogance are disgusting, that they wound our self-love and excite our aversion by their repulsive conduct; but that amiable modesty which ...
— Letters to Eugenia - or, a Preservative Against Religious Prejudices • Baron d'Holbach

... to have snow to play a game of snowballs!" said his father. "Why didn't you say what you wanted sooner? You are such a diffident ...
— Marjorie's New Friend • Carolyn Wells

... tried at a later time was that of a tall young man, diffident, pale and modest, being given a broom carefully wrapped in a sheet, and told that it was his sweetheart. He accepted the situation and sat down by the broom. He was a little sheepish at first, but eventually he grew ...
— Complete Hypnotism: Mesmerism, Mind-Reading and Spiritualism • A. Alpheus

... a little diffident about exposing the fact that the president had said a swear word, but she ...
— The Attempted Assassination of ex-President Theodore Roosevelt • Oliver Remey

... slandered,—could not pardon the severe truth whereby she drew the sting from their spite. Indeed, how could so undisguised a censor but shock the prejudices of the moderate, and wound the sensibilities of the diffident; how but enrage the worshippers of new demi-gods in literature, art and fashion, whose pet shrines she demolished; how but cut to the quick, alike by silence or by speech, the self-love of the vain, whose claims she ignored? So gratuitous, indeed, appeared her hypercriticism, ...
— Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli, Vol. II • Margaret Fuller Ossoli

... he ever spoke to me, though I saw him again. We shook hands in silence, and he left. Nor would the others stay. I had ruined the night. We were all self-conscious, diffident, suspicious. Even Vicary was affected. How thankful I was that my silent lover had not come! My secret was my own—and his. And no one should surprise it unless we chose. I cared nothing what they thought, or what they ...
— Sacred And Profane Love • E. Arnold Bennett

... considered that they ought not to treat me with such familiarity. At length, the names began to be called out. The gymnasium men walked out boldly, answered their questions (apparently) well, and came back looking cheerful. My own class of candidates were much more diffident, as well as appeared to answer worse. Of the oldish men, some answered well, and some very poorly. When the name "Semenoff" was called out my neighbour with the grey hair and glittering eyes jostled me roughly, stepped over my legs, and went up to one of the ...
— Youth • Leo Tolstoy

... of Otranto was published on Christmas Eve, 1764, must be assigned the honour of having introduced the Gothic romance and of having made it fashionable. Diffident as to the success of so "wild" a story in an age devoted to good sense and reason, he sent forth his mediaeval tale disguised as a translation from the Italian of "Onuphrio Muralto," by William Marshall. It was only after it ...
— The Tale of Terror • Edith Birkhead

... with a friend like thee? When hadst thou ever a thought that was not kindly and generous? When a wish, or a possession, but for me you would sacrifice it? How brave are you, and how modest; how gentle, and how strong; how simple, unselfish, and humble; how eager to see others' merit; how diffident of your own!" He stood on the shore till his figure grew dim before, me. There was that in my eyes which prevented me from ...
— The Virginians • William Makepeace Thackeray

... she flung toward him was shy and diffident. She had loved him then. She loved him now. Somehow he was infinitely nearer to her ...
— The Highgrader • William MacLeod Raine

... and stairs and a white-capped maid emerged. The rooms confused Desire, there were so many of them and all with such a strong family likeness of dark furniture and chintz. Aunt Caroline called them by their names and, throwing open their doors, announced them in prideful tones. Desire felt very diffident, they were such exclusive rooms, so old and settled and sure of themselves—and she was so new. They might, she felt, cold-shoulder her entirely. It was ...
— The Window-Gazer • Isabel Ecclestone Mackay

... thing about Billy's ambition was that the only world he thirsted to conquer was Elmville. His nature was diffident and unassuming. National or State honours might have oppressed him. But, above all things, he hungered for the appreciation of the friends among whom he had been born and raised. He would not have plucked one ...
— Roads of Destiny • O. Henry

... A curiously restrained, almost diffident, expression, which in no way suited his personality, came into Derby's face, and he ...
— The Title Market • Emily Post

... much, for she was diffident; she seldom joined in general conversations; though her quickness of penetration enabled her soon to enter into the characters of those she conversed with; and her sensibility made her desirous of pleasing every human creature. Besides, ...
— Mary - A Fiction • Mary Wollstonecraft

... craving for power, it must be confessed he was by no means diffident in the use of it. One of the very first acts of his administration is too characteristic to be omitted. The government of Cazorla, the most considerable place in the gift of the archbishop of Toledo, had been intrusted by the grand cardinal to his younger brother ...
— The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella The Catholic, V2 • William H. Prescott

... diffident I am, but it seems to me a lady with your observation should have seen the gratification I did not venture ...
— The Cattle-Baron's Daughter • Harold Bindloss

... though she at first made a slight movement—not of resistance, but of timid reluctance, utterly unlike herself—she suffered him to hold her hand. He drew closer to her, himself more diffident in the moment of success than he had ever been when he anticipated failure; she was so unlike any woman he had ever known before. Very gently he put his arm about her, and drew her ...
— Saracinesca • F. Marion Crawford

... papers before him, saw the extraordinary stranger enter his room and bolt the door behind him, he asked who he was and what he wanted. The man, who was holding his hat respectfully in his hand, had no sooner, with a diffident presentiment of the terror that he would cause, made answer that he was Michael Kohlhaas, the horse-dealer, than Luther cried out, "Stand far back from me!" and rising from the desk added, as he hurried toward a bell, "Your breath is ...
— The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. IV • Editor-in-Chief: Kuno Francke

... the one to whom he looked up, and thought so beautiful. For before all beauty he was humble, inclined to think himself a clod. It was the part of life which was always unconsciously sacred, and to be approached trembling. The more he admired, the more tremulous and diffident he became. And so, after his one wild moment, when she plucked those sweet-scented blossoms and dropped them over him, he felt abashed; and walking home beside her he was quieter than ever, awkward to the depths of ...
— Forsyte Saga • John Galsworthy

... is a long time, my friend!" interposed Heliobas gently. "You are too despondent,—perchance too diffident, concerning your own ability." ...
— Ardath - The Story of a Dead Self • Marie Corelli

... tampered with since I have been upon this utstation [Invergarry], and I find it was refer'd to GLENGARY, as the Clans thought he had a better motion of French policy, of which they seem to be greatly diffident. The offers being verbal, and the bearer being non of the greatest consequence, it was prorog'd; upon which the greatest anxiety has been since exprest to have GLENGARY t'other side, at a Conference, that he, in the name of the Clans, should demand ...
— Pickle the Spy • Andrew Lang

... sold, and, having the means of subsistence in herself, she could be independent; a letter from her father shows how they were at one on this important subject, and it must have been a great encouragement to her in her loneliness, as she was always diffident of her own powers. However, now her work lay in arranging and copying her husband's MSS., and saving treasures which but for her loving care might have been lost. In the spring of this year, 1823, Trelawny ...
— Mrs. Shelley • Lucy M. Rossetti

... finished the sugar he rolled out of the door with a half-diffident, half-inviting look in his eye, as if he expected me to follow. I did so, but the sniffing and snorting of the keen-scented Pomposo [Footnote: Pomposo: the writer's horse.] in the hollow, not only revealed ...
— Short Stories and Selections for Use in the Secondary Schools • Emilie Kip Baker

... hall in considerable numbers to hear the message of which he was no doubt the bearer. Ned took his place by the side of the old officer, and facing the crowd began to speak. At other times he would have been diffident in addressing a crowded audience, but he felt that he must justify the confidence imposed on him, and knowing the preparations that were being made by the prince, and his intense anxiety that Alkmaar ...
— By Pike and Dyke: A Tale of the Rise of the Dutch Republic • G.A. Henty

... the eyebrows, and allow the hair to grow unshorn, tying it behind with a cord and wearing a comb; while the women cut theirs and wear no comb. They are an agricultural people—peaceable, ingenious, apathetic, diffident, and bashful. ...
— The Andes and the Amazon - Across the Continent of South America • James Orton

... Hunding is safely asleep: she has drugged him. She tells the story of the one-eyed man who appeared at her forced marriage, and of the sword. She has always felt, she says, that her miseries will end in the arms of the hero who shall succeed in drawing it forth. The stranger, diffident as he is about his luck, has no misgivings as to his strength and destiny. He gives her his affection at once, and abandons himself to the charm of the night and the season; for it is the beginning of Spring. They soon learn from ...
— The Perfect Wagnerite - A Commentary on the Niblung's Ring • George Bernard Shaw

... enough that the extreme impatience, the hurried anxiety, I had felt and suffered from, while riding up the avenue, had now fled entirely, and in its place I felt nothing but a diffident distrust of myself, and a vague sense of awkwardness about intruding thus unexpectedly upon the family, while engaged in all the cares and preparations for a speedy departure. The hall-door lay as usual wide open, the hall itself was strewn and littered with trunks, imperials, and ...
— The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer, Vol. 1 • Charles James Lever

... him. For with that boyish diffident gesture of his he reached over presently and ...
— Slippy McGee, Sometimes Known as the Butterfly Man • Marie Conway Oemler

... there, the resolution she had formed went clean out of her mind. She forgot entirely the ban that had been placed on Ingram by her husband. But after her first emotion on seeing him was over, and when he began to discuss what she ought to do, and even to advise her in a diffident sort of way, she remembered all that she had forgotten, and was ashamed to find herself sitting there and talking to him as if it were in her father's house at Borva. Indeed, when he proposed to take the management of her affairs into his own hands, and to go and look ...
— Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 12, No. 32, November, 1873 • Various

... remember a certain girl, Miss Dayton," he asked, "who on a memorable class day gave the pleasure of her company to a diffident student who in ecstasy at playing escort to the lovely girl and her dignified Aunt Marcia, nearly forgot all which he ever knew, managing only to stammer through an effort at conversation which must have ...
— Randy and Her Friends • Amy Brooks

... that my opinion would decide the point," rejoined he, "I should be diffident about expressing it in a case ...
— A Romance of the Republic • Lydia Maria Francis Child

... this general survey, you may be sure, the most material spot of me was not excused the strictest visitation; nor was it but agreed, that I had not the least reason to be diffident of passing even for a maid, on occasion; so inconsiderable a flaw had my preceding adventures created there, and so soon had the blemish of an over-stretch been repaired and worn out at any age, and in my naturally small make ...
— Memoirs Of Fanny Hill - A New and Genuine Edition from the Original Text (London, 1749) • John Cleland

... preserved his serene, gentle, expression, I am told (for I have not witnessed those scenes myself), and looked around at the people with an air of placid sufficiency which was the first hint to the world of the man's overweening, immeasurable conceit, hidden hitherto under a diffident manner. It could be seen too in his dogged assertion that if he had been given enough time and a lot more money everything would have come right. And there were some people (yes, amongst his very victims) who more than half believed him, even after the criminal prosecution which soon followed. ...
— Chance - A Tale in Two Parts • Joseph Conrad

... have too little cheek to attempt to do that, for the president is a rather obstinate man, and I fear he would not see the point. Besides, I am a very modest man, though you may not have observed this shining trait in my character. No; I am too diffident to ask for a place I have not ...
— Within The Enemy's Lines - SERIES: The Blue and the Gray—Afloat • Oliver Optic

... gives a swift bound to the blood of youth. It involves the idea of possession, and of the dependence of the cherished one upon your own arm and strength. But the admiration you entertain seems almost too lofty for this; Nelly's question makes you diffident of reply; and you lose yourself in a new story of those excellencies of speech and of figure which have ...
— Dream Life - A Fable Of The Seasons • Donald G. Mitchell

... escaped; and when these failed to cheer us, pointing out how, after all, it was only anticipating an end which must come to us all, that it would soon be over, and that death from exhaustion was a merciful one (which is not true). Then, in a diffident sort of way, as once before I had heard him do, he suggested that we should throw ourselves on the mercy of a higher Power, which for my part I ...
— King Solomon's Mines • H. Rider Haggard

... It was all natural that I should be as grave as a judge when I addressed myself to so quiet a member of society. She seemed to divine my object, and sustained the dialogue; I never knew her to do it before. It is not diffidence, it seems, that has been the cause of this reserve; I was the more diffident of the two, failing to express my thoughts well, from a hurry and uncertainty of mind which I am not often troubled withal. It was partly astonishment, in truth, that confused me. Little Ugly and I actually exchanging ideas! I shall call her Little Ugly still, ...
— Autumn Leaves - Original Pieces in Prose and Verse • Various

... displayed two even rows of very white teeth. He was popular with men, being manly, frank and cordial in his relations with them, and women admired him greatly, although they were somewhat intimidated by his grave and serious manner. The truth was that he was rather diffident with women, largely owing to ...
— The Lion and The Mouse - A Story Of American Life • Charles Klein

... to Allan who is now on his way for many an hour. As he made his way, he marveled that he should have had notice brought upon himself, for he was young and diffident and should by every token have escaped attention in these his first days at court. How would his heart have grown tumultuous had he known that none other than Arthur himself had made him choice. But that he was not to know ...
— In the Court of King Arthur • Samuel Lowe

... of the seance, "it has given me a lesson with respect to the worthlessness of evidence which I shall always remember, and besides will make me very diffident in trusting myself. Unless I had seen it, I could not have believed in the evidence of any one with such perfect bona fides as ...
— The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley Volume 2 • Leonard Huxley

... left of Forster's confidence leaked away as he heard his own diffident voice filling the room again. It was like being awake in the middle of ...
— Warning from the Stars • Ron Cocking

... covered Fife, the temperature of his heart began to correspond with the atmosphere. While Dundee had always carried himself bravely before men, and had kept his misgivings to himself, and seemed the most indifferent of gay Cavaliers, he had really been a modest and diffident man. From the first he had had grave fears of the success of his cause, and more than doubts about the loyalty of his comrades. He was quite prepared not only for desperate effort, but for final defeat. No man could say ...
— Graham of Claverhouse • Ian Maclaren

... a great impression upon Mr. Gresham's heart. His recollection of the difference between his age and Rosamond's, and his consciousness of the want of the gaiety and attractions of youth, rendered him extremely diffident, and for some time suppressed his passion, at least delayed the declaration of his attachment. But Rosamond seemed evidently to like his company and conversation, and she showed that degree of esteem and interest for him which, he flattered himself, might ...
— Tales and Novels, Vol. VII - Patronage • Maria Edgeworth

... by Dr. Bronner, state that at first we found Emma very quiet and diffident, possibly somewhat shy and timid. At best she did not talk freely, only in monosyllables as a rule. She appears rather nervous. She says she thinks of lots of things she does not speak of. Emma smiles in friendly enough fashion, and later ...
— Pathology of Lying, Etc. • William and Mary Healy

... is in his thirty-fourth year; and inherits the mental qualities of both his parents—the demeanor and person of his father. He has a reserve which is not cynical, but only diffident; yet it gives him, at least at first sight, and till you have become familiar with his features, which are of a cast at once refined and aristocratic, yet full of goodness—an air of hauteur, which ...
— Ten Thousand a-Year. Volume 1. • Samuel Warren

... interest in the business at all: they do not count. The sympathy of a mother may be reckoned on, but not her judgement, for she is either wildly favourable, or, mistrusting her own tendencies, is more diffident than need be. The most that relations can do for the end before us is to worry, interrupt, deride, and tease the literary member of the family. They seldom fail in these duties, and not even success, ...
— How to Fail in Literature • Andrew Lang

... man!' she exclaims to herself. 'How heroic he seems, controlling those wild creatures! Strange he should always be so diffident when in my society. There shall be an end of ...
— The Continental Monthly, Volume V. Issue I • Various

... true that—partly as a result of ancient traditions and education, partly of genuine feminine characteristics—many women are diffident as to their right to moral responsibility and unwilling to assume it. And an attempt is made to justify their attitude by asserting that woman's part in life is naturally that of self-sacrifice, or, to put the statement in a somewhat more technical form, that women are naturally masochistic; ...
— Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 6 (of 6) • Havelock Ellis

... place is dangerous," said the other, as if giving information, although he knew perfectly that Bates was aware of this. He had grown a little diffident in stating why he ...
— What Necessity Knows • Lily Dougall

... in 1838. In 1844 he was called to the bar at the Middle Temple, to which he had migrated from Lincoln's Inn. During his first years at the chancery bar, Cairns showed little promise of the eloquence which afterwards distinguished him. Never a rapid speaker, he was then so slow and diffident, that he feared that this defect might interfere with his legal career. Fortunately he was soon able to rid himself of the idea that he was only fit for practice as a conveyancer. In 1852 he entered parliament as member for ...
— Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Part 4 - "Bulgaria" to "Calgary" • Various

... from its accustomed tone; he can look his audience in the eye, receiving the stimulus of whatever interest they express; and at the same time he can let them see in his features the earnestness and sincerity that he feels. To stand near the back of the stage is undoubtedly easier for one who is diffident or inexperienced; perhaps he will then be able partially to forget where he is and to imagine that he is alone; but such an attitude both severs all personal connection between speaker and hearer, and shows ...
— Practical Argumentation • George K. Pattee

... the then customary manner, we went up when we mastered a word missed by the pupil below. I was always struggling to stand next to her, and when I did, I was happy. That is how I learned to spell so well! I had become diffident with girls and as much more so with her as I was fond of being with her. Consequently we spoke to each other but little. To be where she was was enough. Those inclinations and awkward attentions, which betray the situation to the onlooker, ...
— Confessions of Boyhood • John Albee

... other Faults equal to these, as where Authors, through overmuch Timerity, or too great Opinion of their own Performances, permit their Writings to pass with egregious Errors; and I take it to be equally pernicious for a Man to be too diffident of his own Performances, as it is to be presuming: There are likewise some Gentlemen, who (by a lazy Disposition, or through over much Haste, an impatience in dispatch to gain an early Reputation) commit ...
— A Vindication of the Press • Daniel Defoe

... dear Howard! I may speak plainly to you now, mayn't I? I think you have more effect on people than you know. You have upset us! I am not criticising you, because you have exceeded all my hopes. But you are too diffident, and you don't realise your power of sympathy. You are very observant, very quick to catch the drift of people's moods, and you are not at all formidable. You are so much interested in people that you lead them to reveal themselves and to betray themselves; ...
— Watersprings • Arthur Christopher Benson

... ever had occasion to think you too diffident, or too delicate,' Louisa answered him composedly: 'I have never made that objection to you, either as a child or as a woman. I don't understand ...
— Hard Times • Charles Dickens*

... illustrating the life of the Servite saint Filippo Benizzi (d. 1285). He executed them in a few months, being endowed by nature with remarkable readiness and certainty of hand and unhesitating firmness in his work, although in the general mould of his mind he was timid and diffident. The subjects are the saint sharing his cloak with a leper, cursing some gamblers, and restoring a girl possessed with a devil. The second and third works excel the first, and are impulsive and able performances. These paintings met with merited applause, and gained ...
— Project Gutenberg Encyclopedia

... all, to be much obliged to you for the safety of the ship, and perhaps of ourselves. I am particularly so; nothing but that instantaneous presence of mind and calmness saved her; another ship's length and we should have been fast on shore; had you been the least diffident, or made the least confusion, so as to make the ship baulk in her stays, she must have been inevitably lost." "Sir, you are very good, but I have done nothing that I suppose any body else would not have done, in the same situation. I did not turn all the hands up, knowing the ...
— Thrilling Narratives of Mutiny, Murder and Piracy • Anonymous

... not be diffident," replied Millicent, checking him with a wave of her hand. "Suppose it was I who found the drawing? You would be willing to keep silence ...
— Thurston of Orchard Valley • Harold Bindloss

... humane and compassionate, ready to forgive injuries, and capable of a sincere reconciliation with those who had offended him. His friendship, where he professed it, went beyond his professions. He was of a very easy, of very pleasing, access; but somewhat slow, and, as it were, diffident in his advances to others: he had that in his nature which abhorred intrusion into any society whatever. He was, therefore, less known, and consequently his character became more liable to misapprehensions and misrepresentations: he was very ...
— Lives of the Poets, Vol. 1 • Samuel Johnson

... by the bargain when it is made than the author is; perhaps because he has the best of it. But he has not always the best of it; I have known publishers too generous to take advantage of the innocence of authors; and I fancy that if publishers had to do with any race less diffident than authors, they would have won a repute for unselfishness that they do not now enjoy. It is certain that in the long period when we flew the black flag of piracy there were many among our corsairs on the high seas of literature who paid a fair price ...
— Henry James, Jr. • William Dean Howells

... had fled from him. He seemed to be no longer on an equality with her. He was diffident, he was respectful. If this girl was a friend of Mr. Gay the distinguished poet and dramatist whose latest work, "The Fables," was being talked about at Button's, at Wills', at every coffee-house where the wits gathered, she must be ...
— Madame Flirt - A Romance of 'The Beggar's Opera' • Charles E. Pearce

... she had already suspected. He said nothing definite. He was immensely distant in his reverence, but a much humbler girl than Mary could hardly have mistaken his meaning. He was so pathetically diffident it was impossible to snub him, and she had no desire to snub him. Always she was immensely sorry for him—why, ...
— The Ffolliots of Redmarley • L. Allen Harker

... himself flushing. With a diffident, awkward gesture he took Sylvia's hand in his—and then he uttered an exclamation of surprise ...
— The Chink in the Armour • Marie Belloc Lowndes

... reenter the service under the patronage of General John Pope, who was full of self-importance about his acquaintance with the Union leaders of Illinois, Grant wrote to the Adjutant-General at Washington offering to command a regiment. Like Sherman, he felt much more diffident about the rise from ex-captain of regulars to colonel commanding a battalion than some mere civilians felt about commanding brigades or directing the strategy of armies. He has himself recorded his horror of sole responsibility as he approached ...
— Captains of the Civil War - A Chronicle of the Blue and the Gray, Volume 31, The - Chronicles Of America Series • William Wood

... the thousandth time as a touch of humour. The reason is obvious. French critics are wholly ignorant of our language. Very few of them have crossed the Channel, even to obtain a Leicester Square idea of our dear England. But they are not diffident on this account. They have never seen samples of the Britisher—except on the Boulevards, or whistling in the cafes—where our countrymen, I beg leave to say, do not shine; and these to them are representations of our English society. Suppose we took ...
— The Cockaynes in Paris - 'Gone abroad' • Blanchard Jerrold

... stood by a spindly table, carefully examining a small but costly vase, the property of Mr. Heth, of the Cheroot Works; and now he went on with a kind of diffident resolution, the air of one who gives a confidence with difficulty, but must do so now, for ...
— V. V.'s Eyes • Henry Sydnor Harrison

... put out his hand as if with the intention of giving Done an approving pat on the shoulder, but the young man turned away abruptly, thrusting himself through the men, who had clustered around him muttering diffident compliments, and endeavouring to shake him ...
— In the Roaring Fifties • Edward Dyson

... the acquaintance of Annie's brother and husband, and Jack's friends, Mr. Forrest Felton and Mr. Percy Lanman, and—so pleasant and genial were their ways—felt at home in their presence at once. This was a great relief to her; for she felt very diffident at meeting men whom she had heard Jack praise ...
— The Young Surveyor; - or Jack on the Prairies • J. T. Trowbridge

... Cooper to find beauty in the Indians Conceived a sort of unwarrantable unfriendliness Confer the rest of their disastrous patronage on some other firm Creator made Italy from designs by Michael Angelo! Cringing spirit of those great men Diffident young man, mild of moustache, affluent of hair Expression Felt that it was not right to steal grapes Fenimore Cooper Indians Filed away among the archives of Russia—in the stove For dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince Free from self-consciousness—which ...
— Quotations from the Works of Mark Twain • David Widger

... be built on the island of Pharos should be named after him; and as modern insurances against risks by sea usually begin with the words "In the name of God; Amen;" so all contracts between merchants in the port of Alexandria were to be written solemnly "In the name of Hephaestion." Feeling diffident of enforcing obedience at the mouth of the Nile, while he was himself writing from the sources of the Indus, he added that if, when he came to Egypt he found his wish carried into effect, he would pardon Cleomenes for those acts ...
— History Of Egypt From 330 B.C. To The Present Time, Volume 10 (of 12) • S. Rappoport

... had managed every thing with consummate forecast and tact; and to avoid any difficulty that might have resulted from too many unanswered questions, her son had been represented to the faculty as a very modest and diffident youth, who knew much more than he could tell—like the grave bird, of which it was believed that although it said but little, it thought the more. Indeed, it is believed that he had actually read Cornelius Nepos and three books of ...
— Ups and Downs in the Life of a Distressed Gentleman • William L. Stone

... impossibility. Arnaud Hallet, after his first visit, had soon returned. There was no more mention of his money; but every time he saw her he asked her again, in his special manner—a formality flavored by a slight diffident humor—to marry him. Arnaud's proposals had alternated with ...
— Linda Condon • Joseph Hergesheimer

... of Partiality and Fondness: All this Time the good Old Patriarch, her Husband, seems to have been entirely unacquainted with the Affair. And when the Time drew nigh, in which, according (as some think) to Custom, he was about to bless his eldest Son, Rebecca then grew diffident of the Accomplishment of the Promise made in Jacob's Behalf, and applied herself to the Means, which the Text tells us was used on that Occasion. As to the Authority those Heads of Families had to ...
— Free and Impartial Thoughts, on the Sovereignty of God, The Doctrines of Election, Reprobation, and Original Sin: Humbly Addressed To all who Believe and Profess those DOCTRINES. • Richard Finch

... conspicuously superfluous, that does make some difference. It proves that a widely preached scientific conclusion may be as spectral as Bathybius. On other more important points, therefore, we may differ from the newest scientific opinion without too much diffident apprehensiveness. ...
— The Making of Religion • Andrew Lang

... Mordaunt was somewhat of a recluse in her habits; she was a nervous, diffident woman, who made weak health an excuse for shutting herself out from society. Fay had lived with her ever since her father's death; but during the last year Miss Mordaunt had been much troubled by qualms of conscience, as to whether she was doing her duty to her orphaned niece. Fay was almost ...
— Wee Wifie • Rosa Nouchette Carey

... grown-up looking traveller (though indeed its looks belie it) has started on its way; more diffident, if the truth must be told, than even its predecessors. For it thought within itself—Perhaps there will be no welcoming hands held out this time; hands may grow tired of such kind offices. But it has not been so. And now the sense of gratefulness cannot ...
— Lotus Buds • Amy Carmichael

... how Hiram's countenance had changed. How every trace of keen, shrewd apprehension had vanished, leaving only the appearance of a highly intelligent and interesting, but almost diffident youth! ...
— The Continental Monthly, Vol. 2, No 3, September, 1862 - Devoted to Literature and National Policy. • Various

... six months of his Oxford life, and plucking up courage hurled at him a number of frank, young expostulations, which really put into friendly shape all that was being said about Langham in his College and in the University. Why was he so self-distrustful, so absurdly diffident of responsibility, so bent on hiding his great gifts under ...
— Robert Elsmere • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... his pipe, and thinking how well he had gone through the day. He had not made a single slip. Nothing to groan over. "I'm getting more experienced," he thought, with the vanity noticeable in even the most diffident of collegians, never dreaming that everything that he had said or done in the last few hours, had been made easy for him by a ...
— The Honorable Peter Stirling and What People Thought of Him • Paul Leicester Ford

... Pestalozzi was diffident, and in dress and manner careless to the point of slovenliness; Froebel was extravagant in his self-confidence, and at times almost a dandy in attire. Pestalozzi was always honest and candid, while Froebel was as a boy ...
— Autobiography of Friedrich Froebel • Friedrich Froebel

... ordinary civilian, no one would have taken him for one of England's bravest and most efficient sea-captains; he would have passed rather as some thoughtful, well-educated, and refined gentleman, of retired habits, diffident of himself, and a stranger to ambition. He wore an undress rear-admiral's uniform, as a matter of course; but he wore it carelessly, as if from a sense of duty only; or conscious that no arrangement could give him a military air. Still ...
— The Two Admirals • J. Fenimore Cooper

... is a long way from the early days I was discussing, when I was making my first diffident bows to lecture audiences and learning the lessons of the pioneer in the lecture-field. I was soon to learn more, for in 1888 Miss Anthony persuaded me to drop my temperance work and concentrate my energies on the suffrage ...
— The Story of a Pioneer - With The Collaboration Of Elizabeth Jordan • Anna Howard Shaw

... Her diffident smile, together with the candour of her eyes, embarrassed him to such extent that for the moment he was ...
— The Lone Wolf - A Melodrama • Louis Joseph Vance

... goes about his own business, as if there were no disconsolate widow pining away her desolate being for him. The boarders recognize the fact, and they enjoy the fun, and flatter her into the belief that the bachelor is willin', but too diffident to propose, and they tell her that she must not be shy—that she can reveal the state of her feelings in a delicate way—and, when they have every thing in a right train, they withdraw from the little parlor, as Mr. Bond comes in for a moment's ...
— The Elm Tree Tales • F. Irene Burge Smith

... had any words with his wife about her masquerade of that unlucky evening. On the whole I decidedly think not. Oke was with every one a diffident and reserved man, and most of all so with his wife; besides, I can fancy that he would experience a positive impossibility of putting into words any strong feeling of disapprobation towards her, that his disgust would necessarily be ...
— Hauntings • Vernon Lee

... any distance under observation is one of the most trying things I know. I advanced in bad order, hoping that my hands did not really look as big as they felt. The same remark applied to my feet. In emergencies of this kind a diffident man could very well dispense with extremities. I should have liked to be wheeled up in ...
— Love Among the Chickens - A Story of the Haps and Mishaps on an English Chicken Farm • P. G. Wodehouse

... not aware of any alteration in her son's mind. The tone of this latter epistle does not seem to evince any great enthusiasm for the match upon the part of either Southampton or his mother; its rather diffident spirit was not lost upon Burghley, who, within a few days of its receipt, commanded the attendance of his young ward at Court. Upon 14th October 1590—that is, less than a month after Viscount Montague's letter to Burghley—we have a letter from Lady ...
— Shakespeare's Lost Years in London, 1586-1592 • Arthur Acheson



Words linked to "Diffident" :   diffidence, confidence, reserved, timid, confident



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