\ ˈkȯi How to pronounce coy (audio) \

Definition of coy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : marked by cute, coquettish, or artful playfulness using coy tricks to attract attention
b : shrinking from contact or familiarity "'Tis but a kiss I beg, Why art thou coy?"— William Shakespeare
2 : showing reluctance to make a definite commitment a coy response


coyed; coying; coys

Definition of coy (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

obsolete : caress

intransitive verb

archaic : to act coyly (see coy entry 1)

Other Words from coy


coyly adverb
coyness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for coy

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

  • uncoy
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Choose the Right Synonym for coy


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

Examples of coy in a Sentence

Adjective It is distinctly odd to read a whole page dedicated to Hitler's life and character without a reference to his anti-Semitism. To say that Swiss banks contained gold coming from the bank accounts, the jewelry boxes, and the teeth of "concentration camp victims" is a little coy. — Ian Buruma, New Republic, 31 Jan. 2000 Rival camps are terrified that Bush will reject federal matching funds and the campaign-spending limits they impose, and Bush's aides are coy on the subject. — John F. Dickerson, Time, 8 Mar. 1999 And there's Julia, the charming "chatterbot" (a text-based computer character), whose coy pickup banter echoes that of real-life Internet flirts. — Michiko Kakutani, Albany (New York) Times-Union, 20 Aug. 1997 I didn't like her coy manner. He gave a coy answer.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective As for his potential future with Marvel Studios, Kaluuya stayed coy about the possibilities. J. Kim Murphy, Variety, 22 Aug. 2022 Casamigos has been very coy about its founders’ views on its prevalence in rap. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, 5 Aug. 2022 Imagine a slightly less coy Sally Rooney paired with a highly perceptive alien, with strangely illuminating results. Nathan Deuel, Los Angeles Times, 20 July 2022 That last comment, delivered with a coy smirk, has been typical of his response to such questions over the last few years. Adario Strange, Quartz, 24 June 2022 Who wouldn't feel their absolutely best — or even their sexiest or their most playfully coy — while jetting around the city in a citrus green co-ord or a slinky red, curve caressing evening gown? Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, 22 June 2022 Following the wedding, Jonas and Turner remained coy about the event and chose to only share one photo with the public at the time. Alex Gurley,, 13 May 2022 Still, the quality of the script and the coy use of the choral score, swooning in for big emotions in intimate settings, such as a night-time walk on the beach, overcome such shortcomings. Robert Daniels, Los Angeles Times, 13 May 2022 When asked whether a bidding war ensued when the family left E!, Jenner remains coy. Elizabeth Wagmeister, Variety, 10 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'coy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of coy


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for coy

Adjective and Verb

Middle English, quiet, shy, from Anglo-French quoi, quei, koi quiet, from Latin quietus

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Time Traveler for coy

Time Traveler

The first known use of coy was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near coy




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Statistics for coy

Last Updated

9 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Coy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for coy


\ ˈkȯi How to pronounce coy (audio) \

Kids Definition of coy

: falsely shy or modest

More from Merriam-Webster on coy

Nglish: Translation of coy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of coy for Arabic Speakers


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