bash·​ful | \ ˈbash-fəl How to pronounce bashful (audio) \

Definition of bashful

1 : socially shy or timid : diffident, self-conscious He was bashful as a child.
2 : resulting from or typical of a bashful nature a bashful smile

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Other Words from bashful

bashfully \ ˈbash-​fə-​lē How to pronounce bashfully (audio) \ adverb
bashfulness \ ˈbash-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce bashfulness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for bashful

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

The Roots of Bashful

The adjective suffix -ful has a number of different senses, most of which have very little to do with "full of." In the case of bashful, -ful means "having the qualities of." This sense of -ful was combined with an obsolete verb bash meaning "to be abashed” (that is, dismayed or embarrassed) to form bashful, which literally means “having the qualities of being abashed.” This combination of a verb with -ful is also seen in mournful, which literally means “having the qualities of mourning.”

Examples of bashful in a Sentence

bashful boys asking girls to dance a bashful child who hid in his room whenever there were visitors in the house
Recent Examples on the Web But the suborbital launch won’t quiet critics who say Blue Origin is plodding along with the short-legged lethargy of its bashful mascot, the tortoise, only rarely poking its head out of its shell. Washington Post, "Jeff Bezos’ secretive space venture launches a rocket to the edge of space for the first time in months," 13 Oct. 2020 But the suborbital launch won’t quiet critics who say Blue Origin is plodding along with the short-legged lethargy of its bashful mascot, the tortoise, only rarely poking its head out of its shell. Dallas News, "Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launches a rocket to edge of space and back in West Texas," 13 Oct. 2020 QB Ian Kipp also isn’t bashful about tucking the football to run. Matt Goul, cleveland, "No. 1 Mentor at No. 4 Euclid, No. 3 Hoban at No. 2 St. Edward among Week 2 showdowns: High school football preview," 2 Sep. 2020 One of the most remarkable aspects of newly bashful Joe Biden’s march to the Democratic presidential nomination has been his avoidance of the press and his refusal at times to even entertain questions. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Clammed up: Trump takes 700% more questions than Biden in one month," 17 Aug. 2020 For the most part, Savage says The Stranger staff's early concerns about bashful participants were misplaced. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Hump!, the online porn fest that wouldn’t have happened without quarantine," 26 June 2020 Consider, for instance, a friend of mine who bought a butter dish in the shape of a bashful hippo. Tessa Bahoosh, USA TODAY, "14 Target-worthy pieces of farmhouse decor you can get from Home Depot," 19 June 2020 The pair — McShane the chatterbox, Livingston the bashful one — sensed that even a town lost in the desert, where a soul could wander free to the horizon, might fret over a virus so mercurial and deadly. Melissa Etehadstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Nevada town lacked coronavirus news. A radio station came to the rescue," 14 Apr. 2020 Cher was bashful to be busted but then couldn’t help laughing out loud at the audacity. Mia Mcniece,, "Val Kilmer Opens Up for First Time About His Battle with Throat Cancer—and How Cher Helped Him Heal," 1 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bashful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bashful

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bashful

Early Modern English bash "to lose composure, be dismayed" (going back to Middle English baishen, basshen, probably aphetic variant of abaissen, abaschen "to abash") + -ful entry 1

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Time Traveler for bashful

Time Traveler

The first known use of bashful was in 1548

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Statistics for bashful

Last Updated

20 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bashful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for bashful


How to pronounce bashful (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bashful

: nervous or uncomfortable in social situations : afraid to talk to people because of a lack of confidence


bash·​ful | \ ˈbash-fəl How to pronounce bashful (audio) \

Kids Definition of bashful

1 : uneasy in the presence of others
2 : showing shyness a bashful smile

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