bash·​ful | \ ˈbash-fəl How to pronounce bashful (audio) \

Definition of bashful

1 : socially shy or timid : diffident, self-conscious He was bashful as a child.
2 : resulting from or typical of a bashful nature a bashful smile

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Other Words from bashful

bashfully \ ˈbash-​fə-​lē How to pronounce bashful (audio) \ adverb
bashfulness \ ˈbash-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce bashful (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for bashful

shy, bashful, diffident, modest, coy mean not inclined to be forward. shy implies a timid reserve and a shrinking from familiarity or contact with others. shy with strangers bashful implies a frightened or hesitant shyness characteristic of childhood and adolescence. a bashful boy out on his first date diffident stresses a distrust of one's own ability or opinion that causes hesitation in acting or speaking. felt diffident about raising an objection modest suggests absence of undue confidence or conceit. modest about her success coy implies a pretended shyness. put off by her coy manner

The Roots of Bashful

The adjective suffix -ful has a number of different senses, most of which have very little to do with "full of." In the case of bashful, -ful means "having the qualities of." This sense of -ful was combined with an obsolete verb bash meaning "to be abashed” (that is, dismayed or embarrassed) to form bashful, which literally means “having the qualities of being abashed.” This combination of a verb with -ful is also seen in mournful, which literally means “having the qualities of mourning.”

Examples of bashful in a Sentence

bashful boys asking girls to dance a bashful child who hid in his room whenever there were visitors in the house
Recent Examples on the Web But Awaken has not been bashful about its resistance to pandemic directives since the onset. San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Sep. 2021 Most prognosticators thought Emma Corrin was a lock for portraying the young, bashful Princess Diana. Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times, 19 Sep. 2021 Truhan is not bashful about admitting that that day in September was the most traumatic day of his 22-year career in the Secret Service. Brenda Cain, cleveland, 6 Sep. 2021 As backward as the process might sound, building movies around things like Disneyland rides has become standard operating procedure for studios, and Disney hasn’t been bashful about wading into those waters. Brian Lowry, CNN, 27 July 2021 And since the commercial real estate world is heading into a more tenant-friendly market, tenants shouldn’t be bashful. Joshua Stein, Forbes, 23 June 2021 The awkward atmosphere did not dissipate, however, with the typically garrulous Lee noticeably bashful. CNN, 17 July 2021 While Mobius and Classic Loki delightfully debate whether Alligator Loki is truly a Loki or not, Loki and Sylvie sit in the grass like a couple of bashful teenagers trying to wrestle with their obvious feelings for one another. Lauren Morgan,, 7 July 2021 There's a pointed episode in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s television show that encapsulates his remarkable transformation from a bashful, third-generation racer into a multimedia personality. Jenna Fryer, Star Tribune, 28 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bashful.' 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 bashful

1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bashful

Early Modern English bash "to lose composure, be dismayed" (going back to Middle English baishen, basshen, probably aphetic variant of abaissen, abaschen "to abash") + -ful entry 1

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Time Traveler for bashful

Time Traveler

The first known use of bashful was in 1548

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Dictionary Entries Near bashful



bashful Billy

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Statistics for bashful

Last Updated

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bashful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for bashful



English Language Learners Definition of bashful

: nervous or uncomfortable in social situations : afraid to talk to people because of a lack of confidence


bash·​ful | \ ˈbash-fəl How to pronounce bashful (audio) \

Kids Definition of bashful

1 : uneasy in the presence of others
2 : showing shyness a bashful smile

More from Merriam-Webster on bashful

Nglish: Translation of bashful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bashful for Arabic Speakers


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