Alternative Spellings

tseniut, tzniut, tsniut, tsnius, tsnies


  • (n.) modesty, discretion, especially according to Orthodox norms of dress, comportment, and gender interaction
  • (adj.) modest, discrete, especially according to Orthodox norms of dress, comportment, and gender interaction

Example Sentences

  • "Classes will cover human anatomy, sexual orientation, body image, STDs, sexual abuse, sexual ethics, tzniut and the Jewish laws concerning physical contact and sexuality." (from an article in Lilith magazine)
  • “He explained to his son that wearing the beach shirt to shul would not be tsnius.”
  • "The Rabbonim claimed that the fact that men and women might sit together was a tznius issue, so they banned the event."
  • "It's not tznius for the woman to speak at the table in mixed company."
  • "They closed down the clothing store because their advertising wasn't tznius."

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew, Yiddish


צניעות (Heb., Yid.) 'modesty'; transition from noun to adjective happened in Jewish English

Who Uses This

Religious: Jews who are engaged in religious observance and have some Jewish education
Orthodox: Jews who identify as Orthodox and observe halacha (Jewish law)


North America


The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001)


According to standard Hebrew and Yiddish grammar, "tsnius” is the noun form and "tsanua" (Heb.) or "tsniesdik" (Yid.) are the adjective forms. Even so, many Jewish English speakers use "tsnius" as an adjective. The definition of "tsnius" is changing and becoming more stringent in Orthodox, especially Haredi, circles. In recent years the notion of tznius has increasingly been applied to complete separation of males and females and to the avoidance of any pictorial representation of the female face.

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