We explain what modesty is and how it differs from humility. In addition, we tell you what false modesty is.

A young Amish girl looks modestly at the ground.
Modesty is associated with humility, modesty and simplicity, which are forms of moderation.

What is modesty?

Modesty is the absence of vanity or conceit, that is, a form of humility, which consists of moderation, modesty and simplicity. In other words, a modest person is one who does not believe himself to be better than others, nor does he have grandiose aspirations, nor is he arrogant or ostentatious.

The word “modesty” comes from Latin modestusof the same meaning, derived in turn from modus (“measure”), since someone who is modest is someone who lives or acts with moderation, that is, in a moderate manner, without incurring excesses. Hence, modesty is associated with humility, modesty and simplicity, which are forms of moderation regarding desires, behaviors and aspirations.

In this sense, the term has positive connotations, that is, It is a virtue or a desirable trait. However, by association, the term It can also be used to refer to things of little category. or little importance, or to people from a low or humble socioeconomic stratum. For example, we can talk about “a modest car” (that is, it is not high-end) or “a very modest home” (that is, a humble home).

Modesty is usually represented with the symbol of the violet, or with that of a young woman dressed in white, with her eyes downcast and sometimes holding a scepter. In the Christian tradition, it is also considered an important moral concept, associated with self-control. and moderation, and which can take four main forms:

  • Humility, that is, the control of the desire for superiority.
  • The renunciation of knowing what exceeds human capacity.
  • Moderation in customs and behavior.
  • Modesty in clothing and adornment.
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It may help you: Social values

Modesty and humility

Although modesty and humility are very similar concepts, they are not exactly synonyms. Humility should be understood as the knowledge of one’s own limits, virtues and weaknesses.that is, the exact opposite of arrogance and pride. Modesty is a form of moderation, but in certain contexts it can be understood as a rejection of honorsgifts and thanks, considering that the person, deep down, does not deserve them.

More in: Humility

False modesty

false modesty It is the pretense or simulation of modesty, that is, a hypocritical attitude in which pride or vanity is disguised as modesty. A person with false modesty will be reluctant to accept praise or thanks, he will say that he does not deserve it, but Deep down, that’s not what he thinks, but quite the opposite..

false modesty can be used as a way to obtain praise or thanks from others, through false humiliation or false debasement. For example, a person may tell another person that she does not consider herself very intelligent, only to be told the opposite, that she is, and thus confirm the opinion that she really has of herself. By hiding one’s thoughts and considerations, false modesty becomes a form of hypocrisy.

Why be modest?

Modesty, understood as the opposite of arrogance and pride, It is a virtue that is usually appreciated socially. Modesty is manifested, for example, when a talented person does not become proud of his talent, nor does he pretend to be more than others; when a wealthy person does not believe that he is alien to the rest of society; or when a person helps another in an important way without expecting retribution or adulation in return.

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In all these cases, modesty speaks in favor of the individual, demonstrates his nobility and simplicity of character, and those attributes tend to generate loyalties and genuine thanks in the rest.

On the other hand, modesty protects the individual from petulance and false pridethat is, making a fool of others or becoming disappointed in oneself, since someone who is modest is very clear about their own limitations and weaknesses, as well as their strengths.

Continue with: Haughtiness


  • “Modesty” on Wikipedia.
  • “Etymology of Modesty” in the Online Spanish Etymological Dictionary.
  • “Modesto, ta” in the Dictionary of the Language of the Royal Spanish Academy.
  • “The value of modesty” at Deutsche Schule Valparaíso (Chile).