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 But investors remained skittish in the United States and Europe as the number of infections there climbed. Hanna Ziady, CNN, "What global central banks are saying about coronavirus," 2 Mar. 2020 The alleged atrocities in Yemen, including the bombings of hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, have made some American companies skittish about entering into business with the Saudis. Noah Bierman,, "Trump meets with Saudi Crown Prince 'MBS' to push arms deals and challenge to Iran," 20 Mar. 2018 Foxes are common in Maine and are typically skittish around humans, but the state’s mid-coast region has been the site of numerous attacks in the past six months. USA TODAY, "Crane season, corporal punishment, Common Core: News from around our 50 states," 11 Feb. 2020 Her voice—low, melodious—was at odds with her body language: skittish, almost ill at ease. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "Linda Boström Knausgård’s Post-“Struggle” IKEA Trip," 30 Dec. 2019 After seeing George, Folgert went to the shelter and met a skittish, emaciated mutt with some terrier in her., "After seeing George, Folgert went to the shelter and met a skittish, emaciated mutt with some terrier in her. He took her home. Her name is Trixie.," 26 Nov. 2019 Biologists say the Alabama red-bellied is skittish, even for a turtle, and often disappears into the water as boats approach in the Delta. Dennis Pillion |, al, "Alabama’s state reptile threatened by roadways, but making slow comeback," 27 Oct. 2019 Companies today bring executives to the ranch to learn how Grant Golliher builds a relationship with a skittish, untrained horse through a methodical display of respect, patience and non-violent boundary-setting. Jeanne Sahadi, CNN, "What executives can learn from a horse," 29 Aug. 2019 Fears of a lengthy trade war, however, made corporate leaders skittish. Marie Beaudette, WSJ, "CEOs Show Optimism at Davos, Despite Gloomy Data," 21 Jan. 2020

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

Statistics for skittish

Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Skittish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for skittish


How to pronounce skittish (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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