Humble, meek, modest, lowly are comparable when they mean lacking all signs of pride, aggressiveness, or self-assertiveness either in spirit or in outward show. All are applicable to persons and their attitudes and manners, and all but meek may also be applied to homes, occupations, interests, and ways of life.
Humble may suggest a virtue that consists in the absence of pride in oneself or in one’s achievements and, in religious use, a consciousness of one’s weakness and a disposition to ascribe to the Supreme Being all credit for whatever one is or does that is meritorious.
Often humble connotes undue self-depreciation or humiliation sometimes verging on abjectness. As applied to a person’s circumstances, humble suggests low social rank, poverty, or insignificance.
Meek also, especially in Christian use, may imply a virtue evident not only in the absence of passion or wrath but in a consistent mildness or gentleness of temper. In more general use, however, the term so often additionally suggests spiritlessness or undue submissiveness that even when it is employed without derogation these ideas are often connoted.
Modest is often preferred to humble in describing a person who takes no credit to himself for what he is or for what he does; the term usually connotes a lack of boastfulness or show of conceit, but it does not necessarily imply, as humble often does imply, a deep conviction of one’s unworthiness or inferiority.
As applied to such things as a home, a position, or a price, modest suggests neither extreme lowness nor the opposite, but a reasonable and often unobtrusive medium between extremes.
Lowly is often indistinguishable from humble except in its lack of derogatory connotations such as abjectness or sense of inferiority.