\ˈkȯi \

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)

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Other Words from coy


coyly adverb
coyness noun

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


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The gaze captured by the Deborah Oropallo painting, which layers contemporary images over classical ones, might strike kids as that of a watchful nanny but seem more coy to adult eyes. Tim Gavan, WSJ, "Five Stairways Go From Dull to Dramatic," 13 July 2018 When a user asked Stu to clarify the result of his brother’s viral love story, Stu played it coy. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Ex-USMNT player Stu Holden provides incredible twist to Twitter's best love story," 4 July 2018 Ronaldo has remained coy over his future following those comments but many expect that the Portuguese star will shed further light on the next step in his career after the World Cup., "Report Claims Cristiano Ronaldo 'Will Return to Man Utd' After the World Cup This Summer," 18 June 2018 While coy about exact numbers, Dabrowski said Synthego is putting out hundreds to thousands of kits a day. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "Biology Will Be the Next Great Computing Platform," 3 May 2018 The Eagles remained coy about the logistics of the trip. Jonathan Tamari,, "Trump cancels Eagles' White House celebration on eve of visit after fewer than 10 players planned to attend," 4 June 2018 To their credit, producer Chuck Lorre and his creative brain trust weren't coy about the wedding. Brian Lowry, CNN, "'The Big Bang Theory' finds right equation for Sheldon, Amy's big day," 10 May 2018 Iran, for its part, has been coy in predicting its response to a Trump withdrawal., "Trump announces he’ll exit Iran nuclear deal," 8 May 2018 Iran, for its part, has been coy in predicting its response to a Trump withdrawal. Josh Lederman, Fox News, "World to learn fate of Iran nuclear pact Tuesday afternoon," 8 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

You and others are out there, frankly, being coy in talking about what’s going on with this White House. Interview By Audie Cornish, New York Times, "Gen. Michael Hayden Has One Regret: Russia," 1 May 2018 That also explains why Steelers president Art Rooney was coy in talking to reporters this week about tagging Le’Veon Bell. Albert Breer,, "Josh McDaniels’ Decision Is Sign That Patriots Future Will Be Guided By New Leadership Core," 8 Feb. 2018 The movie was (apparently) shot guerrilla style by director Weinstein, though the filmmakers have coy as to which scenes were captured stealthily and which are dramatized. Gary Thompson,, "'Menashe' gives us rare insight into Brooklyn's Hasidic culture," 16 Aug. 2017 Brian Daboll coy talking about Alabama's new offense At the Manning Passing Academy in June, Jalen Hurts described Alabama's new offense as a combination. Matt Zenitz,, "Live updates: Alabama's open practice," 5 Aug. 2017 SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Manager Bud Black is being coy about who’ll be his starting five when the Rockies break camp April 1. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Kyle Freeland continues strong bid for Rockies’ starting rotation; Chris Rusin stepping up," 22 Mar. 2017 Ryan Ave., 6405-Gary A. and Margaret C. Kenner to Coy J. Taffe, $349,900. Washington Post, "Home sales in Anne Arundel and Howard counties," 24 May 2017

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.

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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


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


see coy entry 1

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Learn More about coy

Dictionary Entries near coy


coxwell chair






Phrases Related to coy

play coy

Statistics for coy

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for coy

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

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More Definitions for coy



English Language Learners Definition of coy

: having a shy or sweetly innocent quality that is often intended to be attractive or to get attention

: not telling or revealing all the information that could be revealed


\ˈkȯi \

Kids Definition of coy

: falsely shy or modest

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Comments on coy

What made you want to look up coy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not any or not one

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