Learn English – connotations of the word ‘demure’


The official definition of demure is: "reserved, modest, and shy."

But does it also imply submissiveness?

Best Answer

Demure used on its own doesn't necessarily imply submissive. Dictionary.com fails to list submissive as a direct synonym, although it does cite words such as timid, unassertive and constrained. Demure can be used by itself to imply a certain kind of affect that is far from submissive. Wordnet links demure with coy and overmodest (affectedly modest or shy especially in a playful or provocative way).

Authors are inclined to use both demure and submissive together to convey a mix of traits. Wordnik, noted above, cites this passage from Never Come Down: "'Demure' and 'submissive' were not words in her vocabulary, thus making her very nearly the opposite of the feminine ideal of her day.” Lady Chatterley's Lover has this passage: "A man of her own class he would not mind, for Connie was gifted from nature with this appearance of demure, submissive maidenliness, and perhaps it was part of her nature."