1560s, "having moderate self-regard," from Middle French modeste (14c.), from Latin modestus "moderate, keeping due measure, sober, gentle, temperate," from modus "measure, manner" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures"). Of women, "not improper or lewd," 1590s; of female attire, 1610s. Of demands, etc., c. 1600. Related: Modestly.
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