[ADS-L] Modesty

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Thu Jun 1 14:01:52 UTC 2006

Given that you are interested in American English, why go to the OED to 
settle the question? The American Heritage online or Merriam-Webster online should 
give you all the information that you need, and it will not be encumbered with 
all the UK examples that you find in OED.

In a message dated 6/1/06 7:13:47 AM, db.list at PMPKN.NET writes:

> This is, admittedly, a "homework" sort of question, but the U of Central
> Florida refuses to subscribe to the OED Online (they say it's too
> expensive, which i interpret as meaning "costs too much to waste on the
> English Department at what is still at core a tech school"), and i
> figure there's people on this list who would know the answer--and
> besides, there's a dinner riding on what the correct answer is.
> There are two competing definitions for the adjective "modest". In my
> observation, the primary meaning is something like "non-ostentatious",
> sometimes "small" in relation to things like salaries. However, among
> certain groups (conservative evangelical Xians come to mind), the word's
> primary meaning seems to be related to clothing, and to mean something
> like "covering particular bits of skin".
> Similarly, "modesty" seems to have a primary meaning generally of "an
> unwillingness to trumpet one's own accomplishments or abilities", but
> among the same certain groups the primary meaning seems to be "the
> (acceptance of the need to be?) covering up of particular bits of skin".
> (Note: I am aware of the archaic noun "modesty/modesty-piece", which
> presumably links to the evangelical definition. However, that's a
> concrete noun--i'm interested in the abstract noun.)
> So, two questions:
> (1) Am i right in my intuition that the senses i give as the primary
> ones are, in fact, the primary definitions generally, aside from a few
> groups?
> (2) When did each of these sets of definitions (what i give as the
> general and "evangelical" definitions) appear? I presume that the
> timeframes may well have been different for the adjectives and nouns.
> And thanks in advance, for putting yourselves out for me on this.
> --
> David Bowie                                         http://pmpkn.net/lx
>      Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
>      house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
>      chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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