\ 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)

intransitive verb

archaic : to act coyly (see coy entry 1)

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Other Words from coy


coyly adverb
coyness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for coy

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Keen to tamp down tensions, regional rivals like the United Arab Emirates have been coy about directly pinning the blame on Iran after various attacks. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "An attack on the Saudi oil empire raises new specter of conflict," 16 Sep. 2019 Malzahn reiterated in recent weeks that Gatewood would have a role to play for Auburn this season, though the seventh-year Auburn coach was coy about what that role would be beyond serving as backup quarterback. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "Backup QB Joey Gatewood remains patient, plays crucial role in Auburn’s comeback vs. Oregon," 1 Sep. 2019 Since then, Hollywood has made a handful of coy attempts to represent the events on-screen (ostensibly to channel women’s rage into views and ticket sales) with varying results. Sangeeta Singh-kurtz, Quartz at Work, "Bombshell might be the first great film about the Me Too movement," 27 Aug. 2019 Ravinia has traveled an arduous path during its short life, which led it to be coy about the new space since signing a lease in April. Josh Noel, chicagotribune.com, "Long dormant Logan Square brewery finds a new resident: Ravinia Brewing," 23 Aug. 2019 Speaking after the game, Solskjaer remained coy on the severity of the injury. SI.com, "The Two Reasons Why Jose Mourinho Wanted to Sell Anthony Martial," 27 Aug. 2019 Found footage Engelhardt plays coy on whether this game fits in with the canon of the franchise. Nick Romano, EW.com, "How Blair Witch found new ways to scare the crap out of you," 20 Aug. 2019 Malzahn has been coy about it, not wanting to tip his hand, while players have been mum on the subject; even the typically verbose Boobee Whitlow clammed up on Wednesday when asked a question specifically about Nix. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "Kenny Dillingham discusses Auburn quarterback race, judging Bo Nix and Joey Gatewood in practice," 15 Aug. 2019 Among the Bard’s most popular works, director Burton Tedesco sets the play within a 1950s-era vibe, which emphasizes the coy battle of the sexes between the sparring (but inevitable) lovers, Beatrice and Benedick. nola.com, "Wittiness and romance make ‘Much Ado’ quite something at Tulane Shakespeare Fest," 19 June 2019

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

Adjective and Verb

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

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Statistics for coy

Last Updated

25 Sep 2019

Time Traveler for coy

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

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More Definitions for coy

How to pronounce coy (audio)

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 How to pronounce coy (audio) \

Kids Definition of coy

: falsely shy or modest

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More from Merriam-Webster on coy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for coy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


a calculated move

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