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Humility vs. Modesty: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 30, 2024
Humility is the quality of being humble and not considering oneself superior, while modesty is the act of downplaying one's abilities or achievements.

Key Differences

Humility involves recognizing one’s own limitations and the value of others, often accompanied by a lack of ego or arrogance. Modesty, however, typically refers to being unassuming about one’s abilities, achievements, or status, often in how one presents oneself.
A humble person acknowledges their flaws and is open to learning and growth, often focusing on others rather than themselves. In contrast, a modest individual might downplay their successes or talents, preferring not to draw attention to themselves.
Humility is often seen as a moral or spiritual virtue, reflecting a deeper understanding of one's place in the world. Modesty, on the other hand, is more about social behavior, relating to how one displays accomplishments or speaks about oneself.
In humility, there’s an element of self-awareness and respect for others' perspectives and abilities. Modesty, while also a form of self-awareness, is more specifically about not boasting or being showy about one’s achievements.
Humility can be a guiding principle in one’s life, affecting various decisions and interactions. Modesty, however, is generally more specific to situations involving self-presentation and recognition.

Comparison Chart


Recognizing one’s limitations and valuing others
Downplaying one’s abilities or achievements

Associated With

Moral virtue, self-awareness
Social behavior, self-presentation


In attitude and behavior towards others
In how one talks about or displays achievements


Self-reflection and understanding
Avoidance of boastfulness or showiness


Broad, affecting overall character
Specific to certain situations

Humility and Modesty Definitions


The trait of being humble and not asserting superiority over others.
Despite her vast knowledge, she approached discussions with humility.


Downplaying one’s own achievements or talents.
Out of modesty, she rarely spoke of her awards.


Recognizing and accepting one’s limitations and the value of others.
His humility allowed him to learn from his mistakes.


The act of not boasting about one's skills or achievements.
She showed modesty by attributing her success to luck.


The quality of having a modest view of one's importance.
His humility was evident in how he credited his team for the success.


Being unassuming in the estimation of one's abilities.
His modesty prevented him from highlighting his contributions.


A lack of ego or arrogance, with a focus on others.
Her humility shone through when she praised her competitor.


Avoiding excess in self-presentation and behavior.
She chose a simple outfit, reflecting her sense of modesty.


A moral virtue that involves a deep understanding of one’s place in the world.
He showed great humility by volunteering anonymously.


A form of self-awareness related to how one displays accomplishments.
Despite his expertise, he maintained a sense of modesty in discussions.


The quality or condition of being humble.


The state or quality of being moderate in the estimation of one's own abilities, accomplishments, or value.


The characteristic of being humble; humbleness in character and behavior.


Reserve or propriety in speech, dress, or behavior
Modesty prevented her from wearing that dress.


The state or quality of being humble; freedom from pride and arrogance; lowliness of mind; a modest estimate of one's own worth; a sense of one's own unworthiness through imperfection and sinfulness; self-abasement; humbleness.
Serving the Lord with all humility of mind.


The state of being unostentatious or moderate in size, quantity, or range
The modesty of the room's furnishings.


An act of submission or courtesy.
With these humilities they satisfied the young king.


The quality of being modest; having a limited and not overly high opinion of oneself and one's abilities.


A disposition to be humble; a lack of false pride;
Not everyone regards humility as a virtue


Moderate behaviour; reserve.


A humble feeling;
He was filled with humility at the sight of the Pope


(specifically) Pudency, avoidance of sexual explicitness.


The quality or state of being modest; that lowly temper which accompanies a moderate estimate of one's own worth and importance; absence of self-assertion, arrogance, and presumption; humility respecting one's own merit.


Natural delicacy or shame regarding personal charms and the sexual relation; purity of thought and manners; due regard for propriety in speech or action.
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.


Freedom from vanity or conceit


Formality and propriety of manner


What is humility?

Recognizing one's limitations and valuing others, without arrogance.

Does humility involve self-deprecation?

Not necessarily; it’s more about a realistic and respectful understanding of oneself.

Is modesty only related to achievements?

Mostly, it pertains to how one presents their abilities and successes.

Can modesty be false?

Yes, sometimes modesty can be affected or insincere.

How is modesty different from humility?

Modesty is specifically about downplaying one’s abilities or achievements.

Can someone be humble but not modest?

Yes, one can acknowledge their strengths humbly without necessarily downplaying them.

How is modesty viewed in professional settings?

Often positively, but excessive modesty might hinder recognition of one’s contributions.

How do you practice humility?

By acknowledging your flaws, being open to learning, and valuing others.

Can modesty be a weakness?

If it leads to underestimating oneself or not accepting due credit, it can be seen as a weakness.

Is modesty a form of politeness?

In many cultures, modesty is indeed seen as a polite and respectful manner.

How does humility influence personal growth?

It encourages openness to learning and valuing others’ contributions.

Does humility affect leadership?

Yes, humble leaders are often more empathetic and effective.

Why do people value modesty?

Because it reflects a lack of arrogance and a considerate personality.

Does humility mean having low self-esteem?

No, it's compatible with healthy self-esteem but without egoism.

What's the difference between modesty and humility in communication?

Modesty often relates to how one speaks of themselves, while humility is broader in scope.

Can someone be too humble?

Excessive humility might be seen as a lack of confidence or assertiveness.

Are humility and modesty mutually exclusive?

No, they can coexist as complementary traits in a person.

Is humility a cultural trait?

While influenced by culture, humility is a personal virtue that varies among individuals.

Can humility be learned?

Yes, through self-reflection and understanding the value of others.

Is modesty important in social interactions?

Generally, it's appreciated as it avoids boastfulness.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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