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90s Slang You Should Know


[koi] /kɔɪ/
adjective, coyer, coyest.
artfully or affectedly shy or reserved; slyly hesitant; coquettish.
shy; modest.
showing reluctance, especially when insincere or affected, to reveal one's plans or opinions, make a commitment, or take a stand:
The mayor was coy about his future political aspirations.
Archaic. disdainful; aloof.
Obsolete. quiet; reserved.
verb (used without object)
Archaic. to act in a coy manner.
verb (used with object), Obsolete.
to quiet; soothe.
to pat; caress.
Origin of coy
1300-50; Middle English < Anglo-French coi, quoy calm, Old French quei < Vulgar Latin *quētus, for Latin quiētus quiet1
Related forms
coyish, adjective
coyishness, noun
coyly, adverb
coyness, noun
overcoy, adjective
overcoyly, adverb
overcoyness, noun
uncoy, adjective
uncoyly, adverb
uncoyness, noun
2. retiring, diffident, bashful, demure. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for coyness
Historical Examples
  • But her coyness, her apparent indifference, her walking out to the old captain from her lover, all helped to rivet his chains.

    Hester, Volume 1 (of 3) Margaret Oliphant
  • For his coyness we were partly consoled by the gambols of the river-horses.

  • There was no time for ardent wooing on his part, no vacillation nor coyness on hers.

  • It was impossible for him to forget her gentle look or the coyness of her hands.

    The Goose Man Jacob Wassermann
  • But with the coyness of his caste, he affected reluctance and hesitation; he dallied with his own impatient yearnings.

    Ernest Maltravers, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • "He does know," she whispered, almost with the coyness of a girl.

    Brooke's Daughter Adeline Sergeant
  • His eyes lightened with eagerness and joy, and she trembled with coyness and confusion.

  • This was no time for coyness, and she was too tender and true a woman to feel or to affect it.

    The Bow of Orange Ribbon Amelia E. Barr
  • Our coyness may be imagined; but we consented at length to take this view of the matter, and at noon called up our camels.

  • We struck up an acquaintance with him, after a few days of coyness on his part, and finally made him a friend.

    Artists and Arabs Henry Blackburn
British Dictionary definitions for coyness


(usually of a woman) affectedly demure, esp in a playful or provocative manner
shy; modest
evasive, esp in an annoying way
Derived Forms
coyish, adjective
coyly, adverb
coyness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French coi reserved, from Latin quiētusquiet
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for coyness



early 14c., "quiet, modest, demure," from Old French coi, earlier quei "quiet, still, placid, gentle," ultimately from Latin quietus "resting, at rest" (see quiet (n.)). Meaning "shy" emerged late 14c. Meaning "unwilling to commit" is 1961. Related: Coyly; coyness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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