…vs. confidence


This word generally has a very positive connotation in modern English. I might even go as far as to say it gives me warm fuzzies. There’s nothing quite like confidence, a very powerful thing. Who doesn’t like the feeling of being absolutely sure of something, someone, or– even better– themselves? And, let’s be honest, it’s attractive. Especially when it is discernible from blatant arrogance.

“When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.” -Pablo Picasso

Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem.” -Woody Allen

“Tis a great confidence in a friend to tell him your faults; greater to tell him his.” -Benjamin Franklin

In particular, American culture tends to value “self-confidence” above such confidence in others.



con (added to intensify meaning OR to mean “with/together”) 

+ fides (“faith/belief, reliance, confidence/trust”)


First known use: 14th century



According to Merriam-Webster


– a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something

– a feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something

– the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true

One path I followed connected (to join) the word confidence to the modern term “con artist,” which is short for “confidence artist.” In this case, con it does not appear as to mean contra- (which is used to negate the meaning of a word), it is used to portray the subtle but similar meanings portrayed within the words convince, (to persuade), convict (a perpetrator), conduct (to provide guidance), confidant and confide (a person to trust in; to trust), conquer (to vanquish)…

In other words, “you’ve been conned.” As a rule, a confidence artist must first gain the trust of it’s victim before their so-called confidence tricks will work. The idea is once he or she has persuaded you and gained your confidence, they are able to exploit that trust, and can guide your behavior as they wish. You can probably assume they need you to do something against your own will to meet their goals, which probably are not your goals.

Synonyms — assurance, aplomb, security, poise, tenacity, boldness, determination
Antonyms — doubt, fear, modesty, apprehensiveness, diffidence, insecurity, hesitation



The true meaning of arrogance implies an idea of possession through assumed entitlement. In short, it is presumptuousness: the idea that something or something is naturally endowed to you (simply because you are obviously superior).
On the other hand, confidence basically means to be firmly trusting without any doubt, to have the full confidence to confide in someone, some belief, or yourself (con + fido).
I started thinking about how both were related to expectations without much proof behind it. Both are an assumption about the world we live in: one believes they will win, the other believes he already has– often without anything to back it up.

Creative Confidence,” an upcoming book by David Kelley.


To help quell your curiosity about confidence…

Psychcentral had an interesting article about the fine line between arrogance and confidence.

Forbes Magazine’s recent article, “When Confidence Trumps Competence,” by Roger Dooley.

…and here is a list of well-known confidence tricks to keep you informed. Knowledge is power, my friend.