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

Indiana Decatur: Police rescued a 74-year-old woman after three deer crashed through a bedroom window into her apartment, trapping her inside with the skittish animals. USA TODAY, "Renters revolt, troublesome bras, deer in the john: News from around our 50 states," 5 June 2019 Investors had already been skittish on the technology sector prior to Wednesday’s rout. Akane Otani, WSJ, "Tech Stocks Retreat as Senate Hearing Proceeds," 5 Sep. 2018 The group also frequently uses social media tools, plus cameras and humane live traps, to track and rescue skittish animals that resist capture. Lynn Horsley, kansascity, "Lost pet? Many call on JoCo 'pet chip detective' and his team | The Kansas City Star," 6 Mar. 2018 People are skittish, though, to kind of talk about applying for jobs and not getting them. Eric Johnson, Recode, "How to get a job in venture capital," 26 Aug. 2018 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

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

6 Jul 2019

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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
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

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