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

The skittish birds take flight as the team approaches. Washington Post, "Bird flu hot spot: Scientists track virus in huge migration," 28 June 2018 But for now, financial companies remain skittish because of conflicting messages coming out of Washington. Dan Adams,, "Cash-only possible for first pot sales in Mass.," 16 June 2018 The early indication from this week’s $64 billion slate is that those buyers may be turning skittish. Brian Chappatta,, "Lackluster U.S. Bond Auctions Add to Worries of Foreign Pullback," 12 Apr. 2018 That’s likely to scare off the elite founders who are naturally skittish about yielding too much control to any investors, never mind one single one. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "SoftBank has a lot to worry about if it strikes this deal with WeWork," 10 Oct. 2018 Investors are skittish about the proposition, sending Michael Kors shares lower in early trading. Kim Bhasin, The Seattle Times, "Michael Kors $2 billion bet on Versace may be too bold," 25 Sep. 2018 Such a limited testing regime could help to satisfy government officials who are skittish about Uber resuming testing on public roads. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Uber lays off 100 safety drivers as it scales back self-driving tests," 12 July 2018 But even brides who are comfortable using unknown florists and bands can be skittish about entrusting their hair and makeup to strangers, often without a pre-wedding trial. Jamie Rosen, Town & Country, "Prep Squad: Bridal Hair & Makeup," 20 Nov. 2013 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

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

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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More from Merriam-Webster on skittish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with skittish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for skittish

Spanish Central: Translation of skittish

Nglish: Translation of skittish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of skittish for Arabic Speakers

Comments on skittish

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to enclose within walls

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