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

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 Markets are skittish that the Fed's actions — which take a while to feed through the system — could overshoot, sending the US economy into a prolonged and deep recession. Cnn Business, CNN, 13 Sep. 2022 But as Lithwick and Stern point out, the most immediate solution to this dire problem is one that Democrats have been heretofore skittish about contemplating—adding judges to the courts. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 12 Sep. 2022 While shy and skittish at first, Nebelungs are quick to warm up to family members and love playtime. Corinne Sullivan, Woman's Day, 6 Sep. 2022 But that’s a nonstarter for schools skittish about losing donations. Melissa Korn, WSJ, 9 Aug. 2022 Squirrels are resourceful, humorous, scary, quizzical, territorial and skittish. Washington Post, 2 Mar. 2022 Privacy changes from Apple have affected its advertising business, and rising inflation and economic uncertainty have made advertisers skittish. Kalley Huang,, 31 Aug. 2022 Thousands of people showed up for this year’s parade — organizers had expected a large crowd — even as many New Yorkers remain skittish about massive, potentially virus-spreading public events. Bobby Caina Calvan, Anchorage Daily News, 17 Mar. 2022 Yet Democrats remain skittish to promote these programs in what seems to be a strange side effect of the party’s refusal to fully embrace progressivism. Jasper Craven, The New Republic, 30 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

28 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Skittish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for skittish


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


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