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Avoid these words. Seriously.


[guhn-shahy] /ˈgʌnˌʃaɪ/
frightened by the sound of a gunshot:
a gun-shy bird dog.
hesitant, wary, or distrustful, especially because of previous unpleasant experience.
Origin of gun-shy
First recorded in 1880-85
Related forms
gun-shyness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for gun-shy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Only one of them except Devant gave the gun-shy dog a thought.

    Frank of Freedom Hill Samuel A. Derieux
  • gun-shy investors in Wall Street, and elsewhere too, will have nothing of them.

    Our Railroads To-Morrow Edward Hungerford
  • Don't let him see you doing it or he'll get gun-shy an' jump th' country.

    Hopalong Cassidy Clarence E. Mulford
  • He had, too, the reputation of being the most gun-shy and bullet-proof of social lions.

    The Purple Heights Marie Conway Oemler
  • She first had to get her pony to stand She knew it was not gun-shy.

  • He was gun-shy of women; he suspected them of wanting to marry him.

    A Woman Named Smith

    Marie Conway Oemler
  • But if Browning is our greatest gun inventor, he is the most "gun-shy" genius in the country when it comes to publicity.

    How To Write Special Feature Articles Willard Grosvenor Bleyer
  • He ain't saddle-broke yet and he's gun-shy, but he'll get used to the report o' that money o' yours in time.

    The Fifth Ace

    Douglas Grant
British Dictionary definitions for gun-shy


afraid of a gun or the sound it makes: a gun-shy dog is useless for shooting
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 gun-shy

1884, originally of sporting dogs, from gun (n.) + shy (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for gun-shy



Apprehensive; reluctant; fearful: He's still gun-shy about putting things on paper (1884+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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