[ shahy ]
See synonyms for: shyshiedshiesshying on

adjective,shy·er or shi·er [shahy-er], /ˈʃaɪ ər/, shy·est or shi·est [shahy-ist]. /ˈʃaɪ ɪst/.
  1. easily frightened away; timid.

  1. suspicious, distrustful, or wary (often used in combination): I am a bit shy of that sort of person.The studio made a huge mistake when they cast a horse-shy actor in the cowboy role.This particular inventor was known to be media-shy.

  2. reluctant: She’s never been shy about asking to speak to the manager when she’s unhappy with customer service.

  3. deficient: shy of funds.

  4. short of a full amount or number; scant: We're still a few dollars shy of our goal.He's pretty tall—just an inch shy of six feet.

  5. (in poker) indebted to the pot.

  6. not bearing or breeding freely, as plants or animals.

verb (used without object),shied [shahyd], /ʃaɪd/, shy·ing.
  1. (especially of a horse) to start back or aside, as in fear.

  2. to draw back; recoil.

noun,plural shies.
  1. a sudden start aside, as in fear.

Idioms about shy

  1. fight shy of, to keep away from; avoid: She fought shy of making the final decision.

Origin of shy

First recorded before 1000; Middle English (adjective) schei, sheu, sheouh “easily startled,” Old English scēoh “timid, fearful, shy”; cognate with Middle High German schiech; akin to Dutch schuw, German scheu; cf. eschew

synonym study For shy

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.

Other words for shy

Opposites for shy

Other words from shy

  • shy·er, noun
  • shy·ly, adverb
  • shy·ness, noun

Words Nearby shy

Other definitions for shy (2 of 2)

[ shahy ]

verb (used with or without object),shied, shy·ing.
  1. to throw with a swift, sudden movement: to shy a stone.

noun,plural shies.
  1. a quick, sudden throw.

  2. Informal.

    • a gibe or sneer.

    • a try.

Origin of shy

First recorded in 1780–90; origin uncertain

Other words for shy

Other words from shy

  • shyer, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use shy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for shy (1 of 2)


/ (ʃaɪ) /

adjectiveshyer, shyest, shier or shiest
  1. not at ease in the company of others

  2. easily frightened; timid

  1. (often foll by of) watchful or wary

  2. poker (of a player) without enough money to back his bet

  3. (of plants and animals) not breeding or producing offspring freely

  4. (foll by of) informal, mainly US and Canadian short (of)

  5. (in combination) showing reluctance or disinclination: workshy

verbshies, shying or shied (intr)
  1. to move suddenly, as from fear: the horse shied at the snake in the road

  2. (usually foll by off or away) to draw back; recoil

nounplural shies
  1. a sudden movement, as from fear

Origin of shy

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

Derived forms of shy

  • shyly, adverb
  • shyness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for shy (2 of 2)


/ (ʃaɪ) /

verbshies, shying or shied
  1. to throw (something) with a sideways motion

nounplural shies
  1. a quick throw

  2. informal a gibe

  1. informal an attempt; experiment

  2. short for cockshy

Origin of shy

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

Derived forms of shy

  • shyer, noun

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with shy


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.