bash·​ful | \ˈbash-fəl \

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 \ adverb
bashfulness \ ˈbash-​fəl-​nəs \ 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

One by one, the children smiled, bashful and proud. Amelia Nierenberg,, "‘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,, "Wil power: Wil McPhillips sparks Lincoln-Way East past Brother Rice for sectional title," 30 May 2018 Bo Ryan and others weren't bashful about the frustration with officials, which didn't stop there. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Five other times when Wisconsin sports teams have been hurt by iffy (or outright bad) officiating," 23 May 2018 Yet Coats’ bashful exterior has helped him survive in the tumultuous Trump Administration. Massimo Calabresi, Time, "Intelligence Director Dan Coats Is the Mild-Mannered Force the Trump Administration Needs," 22 May 2018 Sports gamblers long have been a highly engaged if somewhat bashful segment of the sports audience. Holman Jenkins, WSJ, "Gambling Is Coming, So Get Ready to Hate Sports," 18 May 2018 Nordin, Michigan's unique, never-bashful kicker from Rockford, has one of the strongest legs in the country. Nick Baumgardner, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's Quinn Nordin working way back from the wild side," 10 May 2018 The new hire at his chemist, a bashful Saudi girl, shies from his request to spray colognes on his hand. The Economist, "Saudi Arabia is pushing out foreigners to create jobs for locals," 28 Apr. 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.

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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

The first known use of bashful was in 1548

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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 \

Kids Definition of bashful

1 : uneasy in the presence of others

2 : showing shyness a bashful smile

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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

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