\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

Russian officials have been coy about how the leak was caused, even (falsely) intimating shortly after the leak's discovery that a NASA astronaut may have drilled the hole while in space. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "NASA concerned about culture of “inappropriateness” at SpaceX," 20 Nov. 2018 Asked whether Pompeo would return with the three American prisoners currently held in North Korea, Trump played coy. Kevin Liptak, CNN, "Trump says Pompeo is en route to North Korea," 8 May 2018 For now, both Mr. Scalise and Mr. McCarthy are playing it coy. Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times, "Ryan Tries to Ensure Orderly Succession, but Unrest Simmers," 12 Apr. 2018 With opening day set for three weeks from Thursday, White Sox manager Rick Renteria is playing it coy on which starter will be on the mound against the Royals in Kansas City. Chris Kuc,, "Who will start for White Sox on opening day? Rick Renteria won't tell," 8 Mar. 2018 Daniels, who had previously given interviews detailing an affair with Trump, more recently played coy when asked about another statement issued under her name denying the affair. Mark Berman, Washington Post, "Stormy Daniels’s tale gains renewed momentum with Trump lawyer’s claim," 14 Feb. 2018 Photo: Spencer Lowell for The Wall Street Journal Amazon is coy about its long-term plans. Christopher Mims, WSJ, "How Robots and Drones Will Change Retail Forever," 15 Oct. 2018 Russian officials have been coy about how the leak was caused, even intimating shortly after the leak's discovery that a NASA astronaut may have drilled the hole while in space. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "On Thursday a rocket failed. Three humans remain on the ISS. What’s next?," 11 Oct. 2018 But Marvel has been very coy about the Captain Marvel movie. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Captain Marvel and the future of the Avengers, explained," 18 Sep. 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






Statistics for coy

Last Updated

4 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on coy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with coy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for coy

Spanish Central: Translation of coy

Nglish: Translation of coy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of coy for Arabic Speakers

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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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