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 Unlike Baby Yoda merch — which fails to capture the adorableness of the real thing — these fluffy birds with big, bashful eyes already look like stuffed animals. Megan Mccluskey, Time, "Ranking the Cutest Star Wars Characters of All Time, From Ewoks to Baby Yoda," 18 Dec. 2019 There is something disarming about the joint presence of the ever-bashful Eddie Redmayne and the fiercely charismatic Felicity Jones that instantly feels wholesome. Tomris Laffly,, "'The Aeronauts’ review: 'The Theory of Everything’ co-stars Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones reteam for some quality time in the sky," 2 Dec. 2019 Reed, meanwhile, is never bashful about egging on the crowd when playing away from home. Doug Ferguson, The Denver Post, "Americans rally late to only trail by 3 in Presidents Cup," 12 Dec. 2019 For the media-shy and bashful Russell, Rhys acted as a support throughout their Americans tenure. Carrie Battan, Town & Country, "Keri Russell Is the Secret Force Behind Star Wars," 25 Nov. 2019 Bashir, who was appointed prison chief for eastern Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State less than a year ago, looks a little bashful. The Economist, "Ethiopia’s most repressive state is reforming," 3 Oct. 2019 There will be decadence galore — enough to make more bashful souls blush. Susannah Bryan,, "Swingers’ club to open doors for grownups who want to ‘play’," 27 Sep. 2019 Avila has not been bashful to the public in his attempts to deal the 27-year-old, who has middle-of-the-lineup capabilities but limited defensive skills. Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers open to trading Nicholas Castellanos, Shane Greene, Matthew Boyd," 13 June 2019 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

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

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bashful.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for bashful


How to pronounce bashful (audio)

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

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).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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