Middle French, French modestie (c1355 in sense ‘moderation’, 1553 in sense ‘absence of distinction, lack of vanity’, second half of the 16th century in sense ‘decency, reserve’) and its etymon classical Latin modestia temperateness, mildness, propriety, self-effacement
- Date: 16th century 1531
Standards of modesty (also called demureness or reticence) are aspects of the culture of a country or people, at a given point in time, and is a measure against which an individual in society may be judged.
• Downplaying one's accomplishments (see ‘humility’) • Behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency • Avoiding insincere self-abasement through false or sham modesty, which is a form of boasting.
At times of public or private emergency, expectations of modesty are suspended, or modified to the extent of the emergency. For example, during the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, large numbers of people had to strip to their underwear in parking lots and other public places for hosing down by fire departments, often in front of TV news crews covering the events.
Also, there are occasions when standards of modesty are waived, as in the case of medical examinations.