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.

Nearby words

  1. shuttlecraft,
  2. shvartze,
  3. shvernik,
  4. shwa,
  5. shwe-shwe,
  6. shy away from,
  7. shy-drager syndrome,
  8. shylock,
  9. shyly,
  10. shymkent


    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.

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



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

to throw with a swift, sudden movement: to shy a stone.

noun, plural shies.

a quick, sudden throw.
  1. a gibe or sneer.
  2. a try.

Origin of shy

First recorded in 1780–90; origin uncertain

Related formsshy·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for shies

British Dictionary definitions for shies



adjective shyer, shyest, shier or shiest

not at ease in the company of others
easily frightened; timid
(often foll by of) watchful or wary
poker (of a player) without enough money to back his bet
(of plants and animals) not breeding or producing offspring freely
(foll by of) informal, mainly US and Canadian short (of)
(in combination) showing reluctance or disinclinationworkshy

verb shies, shying or shied (intr)

to move suddenly, as from fearthe 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 Formsshyly, adverbshyness, noun

Word Origin for shy

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



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 Formsshyer, noun

Word Origin for shy

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 shies
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with shies


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
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.