It’s No Fun If Have to Explain It

08 May

diffidence – lack of self confidence

Classical Usage:  The slave trader, Haley has just lauded his “humane” method of taking a child away from his mother, Stowe satirically calls him “a second Wilberforce,” and then says this, “The subject appeared to interest the gentleman deeply; for while Mr. Shelby was thoughtfully peeling an orange, Haley broke out afresh, with becoming diffidence, but as if actually driven by the force of thruth to say a few words more.”  At which point he begins to praise himself even more.

Classically Mad Usage:  I’m a little diffident about my lack of vocabulary skills, but after looking back at this passage, and realizing that HBS was using it tongue in cheek, I feel a little better.  After all, the context was working against me here, I couldn’t see the sarcastic look on her face, and so I missed the joke.  Bummer.


Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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3 responses to “It’s No Fun If Have to Explain It

  1. Sandy B.

    May 9, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Ah, you taught me something new! I thought it meant “modesty.” I must have thought I figured it out from context previously, but I was wrong.

    • Christina Joy

      May 9, 2012 at 10:27 am

      My general rule for CWOD has been to ask myself,”Self, if you look at this word with no context or multiple choice answers can you give a definition for it?” It’s shocking to me how often the word written all by its lonesome self on a piece of paper means nothing to me.


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