[ shahy ]
/ ʃaɪ /

adjective, shy·er or shi·er, shy·est or shi·est.

verb (used without object), shied, shy·ing.

(especially of a horse) to start back or aside, as in fear.
to draw back; recoil.

noun, plural shies.

a sudden start aside, as in fear.

Idioms for shy

    fight shy of, to keep away from; avoid: She fought shy of making the final decision.

Origin of shy

before 1000; late Middle English schey (adj.), early Middle English scheowe, Old English scēoh; cognate with Middle High German schiech; akin to Dutch schuw, German scheu; cf. eschew


1 Shy, bashful, diffident imply a manner that shows discomfort or lack of confidence in association with others. Shy implies a constitutional shrinking from contact or close association with others, together with a wish to escape notice: shy and retiring. Bashful suggests timidity about meeting others, and trepidation and awkward behavior when brought into prominence or notice: a bashful child. Diffident emphasizes self-distrust, fear of censure, failure, etc., and a hesitant, tentative manner as a consequence: a diffident approach to a touchy subject.
4 heedful, cautious, chary.
10 shrink.


shy·er, noun shy·ly, adverb shy·ness, noun

Example sentences from the Web for shyness

British Dictionary definitions for shyness (1 of 2)

shy 1
/ (ʃaɪ) /

adjective shyer, shyest, shier or shiest

verb shies, shying or shied (intr)

to move suddenly, as from fear the horse shied at the snake in the road
(usually foll by off or away) to draw back; recoil

noun plural shies

a sudden movement, as from fear

Derived forms of shy

shyly, adverb shyness, noun

Word Origin for shy

Old English sceoh; related to Old High German sciuhen to frighten away, Dutch schuw shy, Swedish skygg

British Dictionary definitions for shyness (2 of 2)

shy 2
/ (ʃaɪ) /

verb shies, shying or shied

to throw (something) with a sideways motion

noun plural shies

a quick throw
informal a gibe
informal an attempt; experiment
short for cockshy

Derived forms of shy

shyer, noun

Word Origin for shy

C18: of Germanic origin; compare Old High German sciuhen to make timid, Middle Dutch schüchteren to chase away

Idioms and Phrases with shyness