adjective bash·ful \ ˈbash-fəl \
|Updated on: 9 Jul 2018

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


play \-fə-lē\ adverb


play \-fəl-nəs\ noun

Examples of bashful in a Sentence

  1. bashful boys asking girls to dance

  2. a bashful child who hid in his room whenever there were visitors in the house

Recent Examples of bashful from the Web

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 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.”

Origin and Etymology of 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") + 1-ful

Synonym Discussion of 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

BASHFUL Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of bashful for English Language Learners

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

BASHFUL Defined for Kids


adjective bash·ful \ ˈbash-fəl \

Definition of bashful for Students

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

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one who attends or assists a leader

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