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

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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

Which is likely why early attempts to domesticate the notoriously skittish gazelle (seriously) didn’t succeed. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Why Are Some Animals Impossible To Domesticate?," 13 Mar. 2019 Yet what seems to be scaring investors isn’t the expense of technical fixes, legal settlements and airline compensation, but skittish fliers on social media hitting plane orders. Jon Sindreu, WSJ, "Boeing Selloff Is About Social Media, Not Legal Bills," 26 Mar. 2019 So investors are understandably skittish about higher inventories, worried that retailers will need to slash prices to clear out their warehouses. Elizabeth Winkler, WSJ, "Why Christmas Will Be Very Weird for Retailers," 22 Nov. 2018 The selloff highlights how skittish investors are about any ECB pressure—real or perceived—on the weakest European banks. Patricia Kowsmann, WSJ, "Shares of Italian Banks Slide as ECB Calls for Bad-Loans Protection," 15 Jan. 2019 Emily Martin, the vice president of education and workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, which advised on the bill, notes that the Senate was a bit more skittish about member reimbursements and what that process would look like. Li Zhou, Vox, "Congress’s recently passed sexual harassment bill, explained," 20 Dec. 2018 Still, investors remain skittish about how long the U.S. economy can continue to grow, warning that a flattening yield curve could signal a coming slowdown in the world’s largest economy. Avantika Chilkoti, WSJ, "European Shares Creep Down Despite Trade Optimism," 13 Dec. 2018 That said, many are likely to remain skittish even if Mr. Trump offers a full-throated endorsement. New York Times, "Trump Resisting a Growing Wrath for Separating Migrant Families," 18 June 2018 In back-to-back laps with the all-wheel-drive $40,000 Golf R, the GTI was more skittish braking hard before a turn. Robert Duffer,, "Car review: Volkswagen finally gives Golf GTI the tech it deserves," 5 June 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

11 May 2019

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Time Traveler for skittish

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

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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

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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

What made you want to look up skittish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

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