skit·tish | \ˈski-tish \

Definition of skittish 

1a : lively or frisky in action : capricious

b : variable, fluctuating

2 : easily frightened : restive a skittish horse

3a : coy, bashful

b : marked by extreme caution : wary skittish investors

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Other Words from skittish

skittishly adverb
skittishness noun

Examples of skittish in a Sentence

We've been skittish about taking on such a large mortgage. the skittish colt leapt up when we approached

Recent Examples on the Web

President Sergio Mattarella met with Conte, a law professor with no political experience, for nearly two hours Wednesday amid skittish markets and concerns in Brussels that Europe's third-largest economy was embarking on a populist plunge. Fox News, "The Latest: Populists' premier gets presidential mandate," 23 May 2018 Fortune 500 firms like agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere have seen their stock prices take a hit, as skittish investors worry that coming tarris will clip profits, and U.S. whiskey, aircraft, and other products have also been targeted. Chris Matthews, Fortune, "What It’s Like to Be a Soybean Farmer During a Trade War," 20 Apr. 2018 As the bumbling Edith, Kirby’s skittish physical stage presence is always a riot. Patti Restivo, Howard County Times, "Spirited comedy, courtesy of APL scientists," 19 Apr. 2018 But that might not be enough to get skittish investors interested in bank stocks again. Rachel Louise Ensign, WSJ, "Investors Look to Earnings to Snap Big-Bank Share Slump," 11 July 2018 By Tuesday evening, the whereabouts of the skittish bear that sprinted through downtown Anchorage remained unknown to Fish and Game. Tegan Hanlon, Anchorage Daily News, "On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, an elusive cinnamon-colored black bear sprinted through downtown Anchorage," 13 June 2018 Never imagined that a horse like Luci — someone else who was skittish, scarred, who had a hard time trusting and being trusted — might save him. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, "Second Chance Farm: Four broken men, six discarded racehorses, one place saving them," 17 May 2018 That draw of drama — and the fundraising potential that follows — has top aides in both parties skittish. Philip Elliott, Time, "Mark Zuckerberg's Testimony on Cambridge Analytica Could Backfire on Congress," 9 Apr. 2018 There was little reason to think drug users had grown more skittish. Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, "‘Testilying’ by Police: A Stubborn Problem," 18 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'skittish.' 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 skittish

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for skittish

Middle English, from skit- (probably from Old Norse skyt-) + -ish

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Statistics for skittish

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for skittish

The first known use of skittish was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for skittish



English Language Learners Definition of skittish

of an animal : easily frightened or excited

: nervous or fearful about doing something

: tending to change often : not dependable or stable


skit·tish | \ˈski-tish \

Kids Definition of skittish

: easily frightened a skittish horse

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Comments on skittish

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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