Definition of bashful
- a bashful smile
bashful boys asking girls to dance
a bashful child who hid in his room whenever there were visitors in the house
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.
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.”
: nervous or uncomfortable in social situations : afraid to talk to people because of a lack of confidence
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