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DIFFIDENCE

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DIFFIDENCE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:18 pm

• diffidence •


Pronunciation: dif-ê-dents • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: 1. Lack of self-confidence, self-doubt. 2. Modesty, shyness.

Notes: Today's Good Word is the noun from the adjective diffident. It is the antonym of confidence and is based on an old verb diffide "lack confidence or faith (in)" as confide once meant "to have confidence in". It looks and sounds quite a bit like difference and deference, so be careful to keep these three away from one another.

In Play: Although "lack of self-confidence" today carries a derogatory tinge, the meaning of this word is quite neutral and can even be used with a hint of the positive: "Arnold turned down the offer to become president of the company out of diffidence in his ability to please everyone." That sense extends to the point of suggesting simple shyness: "Ingrid's diffidence in public led her to spend most of her time in libraries, where she amassed an enormous knowledge of the world."

Word History: This word comes to us from Latin diffiden(t)s, the present participle of the verb diffidere "to mistrust", composed of dis- "not, un-" + fidere "to trust". The noun of the verb fidere is the fidelis "faithful, true" we hear in the Marine Corps motto, Semper fidelis "always faithful" and in the title of the Christmas carol, Adeste fideles "O, Come all ye Faithful". What better word to name your true and faithful dog than Fido, also based on fidere. The root of fidere goes back to Proto-Indo-European bheidh- "trust, confide", which descended to English as bide "wait", abide "tolerate", and abode "home", all about as semantically distant from its ancestor as phonologically.
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Re: DIFFIDENCE

Postby MTC » Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:28 am

DIFFIDENCE DEMO

Diffidens: Not meanin' to take much 'a yer time, your Lordship...that is... er...if you would but grant me a moment...and knowin' full well my 'umble station, Sir...if I could but venture to say your Lorship, and intendin' no disrespect...

Worthy: Good God man! Get on with it!

Diffidens: (faints)

Worthy: What does this fool want?

Courtiers: 'mLord we understand he seeks tuition for
a course in Self-Confidence.
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Re: DIFFIDENCE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:41 pm

I had the impression that diffidence was a more neutral word. I picture it as a respectful silence among a leader's entourage. Not from lack of confidence, but in respect to their leader. Anyone else have a similar take?
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Re: DIFFIDENCE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:53 pm

I think I've seen it taken both ways.

Sometimes a diffident person is described as very "private".
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Re: DIFFIDENCE

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:14 pm

I seem to remember the "old folks" using the word abide to simply mean live or dwell. There is a beautiful hymn named "Abide With Me." I know they used abode for a dwelling place or a home. I have heard, but rarely, of abide in the sense, "I can't abide Mrs. Jones because she is so snooty." The Wicked Witch of "The Wizard of Oz" warned Dorothy that she was going to bide her time.
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Re: DIFFIDENCE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:40 pm

Can't abide is common around here. Lots of things we can't abide, like the temporary NFL refs and the professional refs when they came back. All refs should always call in favor of our teams! And I can't abide calling something chili that has spaghetti in it and is a thin soup. Etc, and etc!
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Re: DIFFIDENCE

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:23 am

Perry: Refs hold no importance for me, so I guess I can abide them. Chili con carne is another matter. Real chili con carne is made with pulled, not ground or cubed, beef; beef suet; masa; chili peppers and onions. In this pristine form it is called "a bowl of red". No beans, no tomatoes, and most certainly no spaghetti. Just as in good coffee, a spoon will stand vertically when thrust into a good bowl of red. Of course, this description does not meet every chili aficionado’s approval. But it does mine.
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