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

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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 Orlando's one player of note was Nikola Vucevic, the 6-foot-11, 30-year-old center – tough inside and no longer bashful about firing up a three. Star Tribune, "Amid the loneliness, Timberwolves steal a magical defeat," 21 Jan. 2021 Identical twins Brinkley and Brooklyn remember their bashful, pre-circus days. Los Angeles Times, "A COVID-era balancing act for survival at world-famous Le Petit Cirque," 17 Jan. 2021 Hammy, a trauma survivor who is a more bashful and tentative beagle than his predecessor, has become an equally enthusiastic traveler. Washington Post, "John Steinbeck’s classic travelogue showcases man’s best road trip buddy," 31 Dec. 2020 As Rosemary Muldoon, the story’s unflappable heroine, Blunt sets out to make magic happen with her bashful suitor and childhood friend, Dornan’s Anthony Reilly. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Emily Blunt on Wild Mountain Thyme and Her Romantic Virtual Press Tour Wardrobe," 15 Dec. 2020 Because the Zion who has spoken publicly this week doesn’t sound like the bashful one who was just thrilled to be a part of it all. Scott Kushner,, "Kushner: Zion Williamson 'a lot more comfortable now,' knows it's all about winning," 10 Dec. 2020 Corrin trained with movement coach Polly Bennett to understand Diana’s distinctive mannerisms — her bashful head tilt, sidelong glances and tall-girl slouch — from the inside out. Meredith Blake Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Emma Corrin was always drawn to Princess Diana. Now she knows her from the inside out," 15 Nov. 2020 But the suborbital launch won’t quiet critics who say Blue Origin is plodding along with the short-legged lethargy of its bashful mascot, the tortoise, only rarely poking its head out of its shell. Washington Post, "Jeff Bezos’ secretive space venture launches a rocket to the edge of space for the first time in months," 13 Oct. 2020 But the suborbital launch won’t quiet critics who say Blue Origin is plodding along with the short-legged lethargy of its bashful mascot, the tortoise, only rarely poking its head out of its shell. Dallas News, "Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launches a rocket to edge of space and back in West Texas," 13 Oct. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of bashful was in 1548

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Statistics for bashful

Last Updated

30 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bashful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce bashful (audio) \

Kids Definition of bashful

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

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Comments on bashful

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