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 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

Hayes also scores as a bashful, clean-cut admirer of the much-older Judith. Tom Titus, Daily Pilot, "On Theater: A hilarious “Hay Fever” at the Attic," 16 Sep. 2019 Tyler’s once-boyish, bashful spirit has long since crusted over, but Zak’s boisterous, magnetic personality softens him up. Travis Deshong, Twin Cities, "A thief and a runaway with Down syndrome bond in ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’," 23 Aug. 2019 There’s also a lot of somehow bashful interest in the twosome. Rebecca Farley,, "The Weird & Wonderful Pairing Of Pete Davidson & Ariana Grande," 1 June 2018 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,, "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,, "NBA Free Agency 2018: Top 50 Players Available," 25 June 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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Statistics for bashful

Last Updated

1 Oct 2019

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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 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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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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