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  1. simple past tense and past participle of shy1.
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  1. simple past tense and past participle of shy2.
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adjective, shy·er or shi·er, shy·est or shi·est.
  1. bashful; retiring.
  2. easily frightened away; timid.
  3. suspicious; distrustful: I am a bit shy of that sort of person.
  4. reluctant; wary.
  5. deficient: shy of funds.
  6. scant; short of a full amount or number: still a few dollars shy of our goal; an inch shy of being six feet.
  7. (in poker) indebted to the pot.
  8. not bearing or breeding freely, as plants or animals.
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verb (used without object), shied, shy·ing.
  1. (especially of a horse) to start back or aside, as in fear.
  2. to draw back; recoil.
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noun, plural shies.
  1. a sudden start aside, as in fear.
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  1. fight shy of, to keep away from; avoid: She fought shy of making the final decision.
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Origin of shy1

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
Related formsshy·er, nounshy·ly, adverbshy·ness, noun


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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.


1. forward. 2. trusting. 4. careless. 10. advance.


verb (used with or without object), shied, shy·ing.
  1. to throw with a swift, sudden movement: to shy a stone.
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noun, plural shies.
  1. a quick, sudden throw.
  2. Informal.
    1. a gibe or sneer.
    2. a try.
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Origin of shy2

First recorded in 1780–90; origin uncertain
Related formsshy·er, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for shied

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • They seemed to be numerous, for she shied at every shadow on the road.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • The horse saw me appear directly in front of him, shied and reared.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • The stable-hands all seemed to know Pinckney and to be proud of it, but they shied some at Rajah and me.

    Shorty McCabe

    Sewell Ford

  • When he joined her, the pony, whose reins had been tied to the pack, snorted and shied.

    Bloom of Cactus

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • He shied the book into a corner, drew off his boots and cast them into the hall.

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

British Dictionary definitions for shied


  1. the past tense and past participle of shy 1, shy 2
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adjective shyer, shyest, shier or shiest
  1. not at ease in the company of others
  2. easily frightened; timid
  3. (often foll by of) watchful or wary
  4. poker (of a player) without enough money to back his bet
  5. (of plants and animals) not breeding or producing offspring freely
  6. (foll by of) informal, mainly US and Canadian short (of)
  7. (in combination) showing reluctance or disinclinationworkshy
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verb shies, shying or shied (intr)
  1. to move suddenly, as from fearthe horse shied at the snake in the road
  2. (usually foll by off or away) to draw back; recoil
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noun plural shies
  1. a sudden movement, as from fear
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Derived Formsshyly, adverbshyness, noun

Word Origin

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


verb shies, shying or shied
  1. to throw (something) with a sideways motion
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noun plural shies
  1. a quick throw
  2. informal a gibe
  3. informal an attempt; experiment
  4. short for cockshy
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Derived Formsshyer, noun

Word Origin

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



late Old English sceoh "timid, easily startled," from Proto-Germanic *skeukh(w)az "afraid" (cf. Middle Low German schüwe, Dutch schuw, German scheu "shy;" Old High German sciuhen, German scheuchen "to scare away"). Uncertain cognates outside Germanic, unless in Old Church Slavonic shchuti "to hunt, incite." Italian schivare "to avoid," Old French eschiver "to shun" are Germanic loan-words. Meaning "lacking, short of" is from 1895, American English gambling slang. Related: Shyly; shyness.

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"to throw (a missile) with a jerk or toss," 1787, colloquial, of unknown origin and uncertain connection to shy (adj.). Related: Shied; shying.

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"to recoil," 1640s, from shy (adj.). Related: Shied; shying.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with shied


In addition to the idiom beginning with shy

  • shy away from

also see:

  • bricks shy of a load
  • fight shy of
  • once bitten, twice shy
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.