Accismus (derives from Greek word ‘akkismos’ meaning “demure” or “coy”), is a kind of ironyOpens in new window which denotes a deliberate and feigned refusal of something earnestly desired.

Here, the person whom something is offered pretends to show indifference or lack of interest in the object; often with a hidden hope that the offer be insisted and renewed.

A classic example is that of Caesar’s initial refusal to accept the crown, a circumstance reported by one of the conspirators in William ShakespeareOpens in new window’s Julius CaesarOpens in new window.

Accismus may be genuine. It may also be a feigned modesty. Basically, the first person offers something, which the second refuses. The first insists then the second reluctantly accepts, as indicated below:

  1. A: ‘Here, have one.’
    B: ‘No, I shouldn't.’
    A: ‘Go on, it's ok.’
    B: ‘Well, if you insist...thank you.’

    (This is example is courtesy of: in new window)

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