shy

1 of 5

adjective

shier or shyer ˈshī(-ə)r How to pronounce shy (audio) ; shiest or shyest ˈshī-əst How to pronounce shy (audio)
1
: easily frightened : timid
2
: disposed to avoid a person or thing
publicity shy
3
: hesitant in committing oneself : circumspect
4
: sensitively diffident or retiring : reserved
also : expressive of such a state or nature
a shy smile
5
6
: having less than the full or specified amount or number : short
just shy of six feet tall
7
: disreputable
gambling hells and shy saloonsBlackwood's
shyly adverb
shyness noun

shy

2 of 5

verb (1)

shied; shying

intransitive verb

1
: to develop or show a dislike or distaste
usually used with from or away from
an author who shies away from publicity
2
: to start suddenly aside through fright or alarm

shy

3 of 5

noun (1)

plural shies
: a sudden start aside (as from fright)

shy

4 of 5

verb (2)

shied; shying

intransitive verb

: to make a sudden throw

transitive verb

: to throw (an object) with a jerk : fling

shy

5 of 5

noun (2)

plural shies
1
: the act of shying : toss, throw
2
: a verbal fling or attack
3
Choose the Right Synonym for shy

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 shy in a Sentence

Adjective I was painfully shy as a teenager. She was too shy to ask for help. He gave her a shy smile. Help yourself if you want more. Don't be shy.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
For this more concentrated mix, it’s recommended to double or even triple the strength, so don’t be shy when steeping this bug-fighting brew. Kristin Guy, Sunset Magazine, 11 Apr. 2024 The essentials have been particularly expensive: Food prices surged during the pandemic, and companies haven’t been shy about keeping them elevated even as supply chains recovered. Allison Morrow, CNN, 10 Apr. 2024 That total is one shy of Golden State’s franchise record. Danny Emerman, The Mercury News, 9 Apr. 2024 Nisha is Indian-American, painfully shy and self-admittedly socially awkward, which doesn’t stop her from making friends, notably with her bubbly competition for a supreme court seat, Brooke. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 5 Apr. 2024 For her part, Dunst isn’t shy about answering questions about real-world politics. Tatiana Siegel, Variety, 3 Apr. 2024 Since the discontinuation of Patrón XO Cafe, social media users haven't been shy about expressing their exasperation. Sharon Greenthal, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 Apr. 2024 The two are still happily together, just a few months shy of their wedding anniversary. Chyna Blackmon, Charlotte Observer, 29 Mar. 2024 With just shy of one week to vote in the Frynal Four, there’s plenty of time for restaurants to campaign on social media or direct customers to the bracket on their websites, which multiple contenders have used to earn thousands of votes so far. The Indianapolis Star, 28 Mar. 2024
Verb
Home prices are still inching up, and many buyers haven’t shied from mortgage rates around 6 or 7 percent. Rachel Siegel, Washington Post, 11 Apr. 2024 Never one to shy away from revealing skin, the Inamorata founder paired a black string thong with a long white skirt that’s almost completely sheer. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, 10 Apr. 2024 Also, don’t shy away from using large furniture pieces and area rugs to break up the living areas, since lofts (especially hard lofts) are usually open concept. Cori Sears, Better Homes & Gardens, 5 Apr. 2024 The agency hasn’t shied from such action in the past. Bymeredith Wadman, science.org, 1 Apr. 2024 Dolly Parton has never shied away from promoting herself or her work. Hugh McIntyre, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 And while the benefits of being open and honest about money are clear, millions of people will still shy away from the conversation. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 27 Mar. 2024 Since then, the couple hasn't shied away from posting each other on their social media accounts or speaking about their relationship in public. Skyler Caruso, Peoplemag, 19 Mar. 2024 Consider a client who always played it safe, shying away from risks due to a childhood marked by financial instability. Remi Adebonojo, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English schey, going back to Old English scēoh, going back to West Germanic *skeuh(w)a- (whence also Middle High German schiehe, schiech "timid, despondent," and, with alteration or variant ablaut, Middle Dutch scu, scouw "timid"), perhaps extended form of Indo-European *(s)keu̯(H)- "perceive, watch" — more at show entry 1

Verb (1)

derivative of shy entry 1

Noun (1)

derivative of shy entry 2

Verb (2)

of obscure origin

Noun (2)

derivative of shy entry 4

First Known Use

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

1649, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (1)

1791, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

1787, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Noun (2)

1791, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of shy was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near shy

Cite this Entry

“Shy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shy. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

shy

1 of 3 adjective
shier or shyer ˈshī(-ə)r How to pronounce shy (audio) ; shiest or shyest ˈshī-əst How to pronounce shy (audio)
1
a
: easily frightened : timid
b
: not feeling comfortable around people : not wanting or able to call attention to oneself
2
: having less than a full or an expected amount or number
we were about ten dollars shy of our goal
shyly adverb
shyness noun

shy

2 of 3 verb
shied; shying
1
: to draw back in sudden dislike or distaste
shied from publicity
2
: to move quickly to one side in fright
the horse shied

shy

3 of 3 noun
plural shies
: a sudden move to one side

More from Merriam-Webster on shy

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