\ 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)

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Mr Ahmadinejad, for his part, remains coy about his future. The Economist, "Does Mahmoud Ahmadinejad want to be president of Iran again?," 20 Feb. 2021 Spears was wholesome and demure with a touch of coy distance, all hallmarks of a southern Christian upbringing. Craig Jenkins, Vulture, "Failing Britney Spears," 17 Feb. 2021 That’s been the coy approach of the four Republican congressmen in our area who haven’t yet admitted that Biden won. Washington Post, "Republicans and others offer tips on how to rebut millions of ‘election deniers’," 23 Nov. 2020 Jordan addressed the news on Friday with a coy tweet featuring a Static comic book cover. Tyler Aquilina,, "Michael B. Jordan producing Static Shock movie for Warner Bros. and DC," 17 Oct. 2020 The statement raises the curtain on Saudi Arabia’s coy public posture after the unveiling of the landmark deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Pompeo gives Saudi Arabia credit for ‘the success’ of Arab-Israeli peace deals," 14 Oct. 2020 Despite the fact that rumors from the set have been flying since Clare and her suitors hit the resort earlier this year, The Bachelorette has been very coy about what Bachelor Nation might be seeing this season. Ineye Komonibo,, "Finally — A Truly Juicy Bachelorette Trailer!," 13 Oct. 2020 The sense of contrivance is reinforced by the filmmakers’ coy method of eliciting remarks from their subjects. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Boys State,” Reviewed: A Frustratingly Hermetic View of Texas Teen Politicos," 20 Aug. 2020 The coy exchange sparked romance speculations among fans as the reality star and NBA athlete have continued to spend time together. Claudia Harmata,, "Kendall Jenner and NBA Star Devin Booker Step Out for Dinner in Malibu with Her Sister Kylie Jenner," 16 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for coy

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for coy

Last Updated

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Coy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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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 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

Nglish: Translation of coy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of coy for Arabic Speakers

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