adjective \ˈki\

: having a shy or sweetly innocent quality that is often intended to be attractive or to get attention

: not telling or revealing all the information that could be revealed

Full Definition of COY

a :  shrinking from contact or familiarity <'tis but a kiss I beg, Why art thou coy? — William Shakespeare>
b :  marked by cute, coquettish, or artful playfulness <using coy tricks to attract attention>
:  showing reluctance to make a definite commitment <a coy response>
coy·ly adverb
coy·ness noun

Examples of COY

  1. I didn't like her coy manner.
  2. He gave a coy answer.
  3. It is distinctly odd to read a whole page dedicated to Hitler's life and character without a reference to his anti-Semitism. To say that Swiss banks contained gold coming from the bank accounts, the jewelry boxes, and the teeth of concentration camp victims is a little coy. —Ian Buruma, New Republic, 31 Jan. 2000

Origin of COY

Middle English, quiet, shy, from Anglo-French quoi, quei, koi quiet, from Latin quietus
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of COY

shy, bashful, diffident, modest, coy mean not inclined to be forward. shy implies a timid reserve and a shrinking from familiarity or contact with others <shy with strangers>. bashful implies a frightened or hesitant shyness characteristic of childhood and adolescence <a bashful boy out on his first date>. diffident stresses a distrust of one's own ability or opinion that causes hesitation in acting or speaking <felt diffident about raising an objection>. modest suggests absence of undue confidence or conceit <modest about her success>. coy implies a pretended shyness <put off by her coy manner>.

Rhymes with COY


verb \ˈki\

Definition of COY

transitive verb
:  caress
intransitive verb
archaic :  to act coyly (see 1coy)

Origin of COY

(see 1coy)
First Known Use: 14th century
COYLY Defined for Kids


adjective \ˈki\

Definition of COY for Kids

:  falsely shy or modest

Word History of COY

Coy now usually means pretending to be shy, but earlier in the history of English it meant just shy as well as quiet. English borrowed the word from medieval French. In French, it comes, by regular changes in sound, from Latin quietus, which—borrowed directly from Latin into English—gives us the word quiet.


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