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

Other Words from bashful

bashfully \ ˈbash-​fə-​lē How to pronounce bashful (audio) \ adverb
bashfulness \ ˈbash-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce bashful (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 While right-wing parties show clear opposition to any relaxation on drug policy, the left-wing Democratic Party’s position on cannabis is bashful because of the fear of clashing with the right-wing coalition and lose voters. Dario Sabaghi, Forbes, 13 Sep. 2021 Most of our hollies have been bashful about producing fruit this year. Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, 19 Nov. 2021 Rudy Zamora-Herrera isn’t as bashful about his birria bona fides. Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2021 And Stewart, like Diana, has a bashful effect that the camera adores. Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times, 8 Nov. 2021 In Baltimore, Harbaugh has not been bashful about his pursuit of history. Jonas Shaffer,, 8 Oct. 2021 But Awaken has not been bashful about its resistance to pandemic directives since the onset. San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Sep. 2021 Most prognosticators thought Emma Corrin was a lock for portraying the young, bashful Princess Diana. Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times, 19 Sep. 2021 Truhan is not bashful about admitting that that day in September was the most traumatic day of his 22-year career in the Secret Service. Brenda Cain, cleveland, 6 Sep. 2021

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.

See More

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

Learn More About bashful

Time Traveler for bashful

Time Traveler

The first known use of bashful was in 1548

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near bashful



bashful Billy

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for bashful

Last Updated

8 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bashful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for bashful



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

More from Merriam-Webster on bashful

Nglish: Translation of bashful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bashful for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!