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

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 The effort failed to attract buyers, in part because potential investors were skittish about the crowded ownership team running Univision, the parent of Fusion. Benjamin Mullin, WSJ, "Univision Eyes Sale of Fusion Media Group," 6 July 2018 The judicious use of detention can help reassure skittish publics in times of truly high flow of asylum seekers. David A. Martin, Vox, "How to fix the crisis caused by Central American asylum seekers — humanely," 2 July 2018 The children appeared to be skittish and spoke with speech impediments, according to a motion filed last week to increase Rogers' bail. Brittny Mejia,, "New charges filed against father who allegedly tortured children," 24 May 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

14 Sep 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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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