skit·​tish | \ ˈski-tish How to pronounce skittish (audio) \

Definition of skittish

1a : lively or frisky in action : capricious
2 : easily frightened : restive a skittish horse
3a : coy, bashful
b : marked by extreme caution : wary skittish investors

Keep scrolling for more

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 Because the pandemic made patients skittish about visiting healthcare facilities, regulators relaxed policies on issues like remote data collection in clinical trials. Charley Grant, WSJ, 25 June 2021 Preckwinkle’s maneuver to give her office more control over the $1 billion in federal coronavirus money flowing into county coffers — and why some county commissioners are skittish about it. Lisa Donovan,, 25 June 2021 Senior Biden aides Steve Ricchetti and Louisa Terrell had spent Friday working to calm skittish Republicans., 27 June 2021 Ricchetti, who now holds the nebulous title of Counselor to the President and is a de facto liaison to the Capitol and Wall Street, had merely sought to give skittish House Democrats an update on the White House’s posture. Philip Elliott, Time, 16 June 2021 As the caretakers walk by the runs, some of the antelope are still skittish and dive into their hideouts, while others, like Viazi, have started to look forward to the company of humans. Dallas News, 16 June 2021 Jim had backed the newsroom in internal debates over whether to publish the Pentagon Papers, facing down business executives who were skittish and outside lawyers who were adamantly opposed to publication. New York Times, 13 June 2021 Wheel and body control remain taut, and the GTI seems stabler, less skittish, and less affected by midcorner bumps. Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver, 13 May 2021 If Biden commits to slashing greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030, will that make the public pay more attention to—and feel more skittish about—the rest of his climate-policy playbook? Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 20 Apr. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About skittish

Time Traveler for skittish

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near skittish




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for skittish

Last Updated

18 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Skittish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for skittish



English Language Learners Definition of skittish

of an animal : easily frightened or excited
: nervous or fearful about doing something
chiefly US : tending to change often : not dependable or stable


skit·​tish | \ ˈski-tish How to pronounce skittish (audio) \

Kids Definition of skittish

: easily frightened a skittish horse

More from Merriam-Webster on skittish

Nglish: Translation of skittish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of skittish for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!