bashful

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Then the senator, who aims to be the first woman of color elected president, bent down to speak with a bashful African American girl. Tyrone Beason, latimes.com, "2020 candidates show unity in South Carolina, wooing black voters and easing up on Biden," 23 June 2019 While others use words like shy, bashful or shrinking to personify the plant. See it in action here: Plants, they're...just like us?! Tainaya Nash, House Beautiful, "This Plant Moves When You Touch It," 8 June 2019 His former teammate Hank Greenberg was also there, and had brought along two balls for the inductees to sign, but was too bashful to approach them. Andrew Dalton, The Seattle Times, "Baseball with signatures of 11 greats fetches $623,369," 13 Aug. 2018 The bashful should look elsewhere for their clothes. Kim Bhasin, The Seattle Times, "Michael Kors $2 billion bet on Versace may be too bold," 25 Sep. 2018 Think of him as a proto Shaun Livingston with a more bashful off-the-dribble game. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "NBA Free Agency 2018: Top 50 Players Available," 25 June 2018 One by one, the children smiled, bashful and proud. Amelia Nierenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "‘It feels nice to be with other people who have been through it:’ At Camp Kangaroo, grieving kids come together to talk, reflect, and play," 14 July 2018 The response is bashful at first, but as Key's smooth, soulful voice brings the cafeteria to near-silence, his audience can't help but join in for the chorus. Lauren Fox, kansascity, "Have you heard Independence's singing school custodian? 'I haven't been booed yet'," 27 June 2018 Lincoln-Way East junior Wil McPhillips can do a lot at the net except, perhaps, be bashful. Logan Malloy, chicagotribune.com, "Wil power: Wil McPhillips sparks Lincoln-Way East past Brother Rice for sectional title," 30 May 2018

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bashful

Statistics for bashful

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bashful

The first known use of bashful was in 1548

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bashful

bashful

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of bashful

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

bashful

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on bashful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bashful

Spanish Central: Translation of bashful

Nglish: Translation of bashful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bashful for Arabic Speakers

Comments on bashful

What made you want to look up bashful? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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