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 Employees who are skittish about returning to the office may have an incentive to go back, even as COVID-19 continues to be a menace. David Lyons,, 8 Oct. 2021 If Democrats -- particularly those who are skittish about the political repercussions of enacting such sweeping changes to the role of government in the US economy -- can't unify now, they will likely be left with nothing. Kevin Liptak, Jeff Zeleny And Phil Mattingly, CNN, 18 Sep. 2021 American’s domestic itineraries will appeal to cruise lovers who may be skittish about booking a European river cruise amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic. Irene S. Levine, Forbes, 9 Sep. 2021 As recently as Monday, a number of Democrats thinking about that race had been skittish about Mr. Cuomo’s huge war chest and reputation as a ruthless campaigner. New York Times, 3 Aug. 2021 The defection last week of three skittish House Democratic moderates on a committee vote to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices was a symbolic blow to party unity. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 20 Sep. 2021 That has the dual benefit of protecting its members and instilling confidence in a skittish audience. Justin Davidson, Curbed, 14 Sep. 2021 For those of us who are even skittish on a stepladder, concern was there from the start of this portrait of an alpinist as a young man. Lisa Kennedy, Variety, 10 Sep. 2021 In response, skittish investors have started dumping their stock. Time, 8 Sep. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for skittish

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Skittish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for skittish



English Language Learners Definition of skittish

: easily frightened or excited
: nervous or fearful about doing something
: 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


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