• synonyms


  1. frightened by the sound of a gunshot: a gun-shy bird dog.
  2. hesitant, wary, or distrustful, especially because of previous unpleasant experience.
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Origin of gun-shy

First recorded in 1880–85
Related formsgun-shy·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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.

British Dictionary definitions for gun-shy


  1. afraid of a gun or the sound it makesa gun-shy dog is useless for shooting
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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

Word Origin and History for gun-shy


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper