- bashful; retiring.
- easily frightened away; timid.
- suspicious; distrustful: I am a bit shy of that sort of person.
- reluctant; wary.
- deficient: shy of funds.
- scant; short of a full amount or number: still a few dollars shy of our goal; an inch shy of being six feet.
- (in poker) indebted to the pot.
- not bearing or breeding freely, as plants or animals.
- (especially of a horse) to start back or aside, as in fear.
- to draw back; recoil.
- a sudden start aside, as in fear.
- fight shy of, to keep away from; avoid: She fought shy of making the final decision.
Origin of shy1
SynonymsSee more synonyms for shy on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for shyness
The result was therefore foul-mouthed and bad-tempered in proportion to the force it took to get through my wall of shyness.Francis Spufford on How Atheists Put Religion Through All the Wrong Tests
October 13, 2013
But those who worked with Charles in advertising say that his avoidance of contact was not shyness, but a deliberate campaign.Charles Saatchi: From Saatchi & Saatchi to Allegedly Choking Nigella Lawson
June 18, 2013
“An invincible modesty—not shyness—held him back,” wrote Barzun.Remembering Jacques Barzun Remembering Robert Pitney
October 30, 2012
I used to think it was shyness, but I got over that, so it must be door No. 2.Karin Slaughter’s Pajamas: How I Write
June 26, 2012
My shyness disappeared when I got up to speak, and I was elected a senator in student government.My Vanished Liberia
October 7, 2011
After a sort of shyness in the recognition, he turns back with them.Sights from a Steeple (From "Twice Told Tales")
Somehow the shyness which her sister had accused her of seemed to have gone.The Law-Breakers
It was a terrible struggle between my shyness and my affection.Beauty and The Beast, and Tales From Home
He was troubled by no such personal modesty and shyness as was Enver.
By degrees the students lost their shyness in the presence of their Professor.The Captain of the Pole-Star and Other Tales
Arthur Conan Doyle
- 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
- to move suddenly, as from fearthe horse shied at the snake in the road
- (usually foll by off or away) to draw back; recoil
- a sudden movement, as from fear
- to throw (something) with a sideways motion
- a quick throw
- informal a gibe
- informal an attempt; experiment
- short for cockshy
Word Origin and History for shyness
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.
"to throw (a missile) with a jerk or toss," 1787, colloquial, of unknown origin and uncertain connection to shy (adj.). Related: Shied; shying.
"to recoil," 1640s, from shy (adj.). Related: Shied; shying.
Idioms and Phrases with shyness
In addition to the idiom beginning with shy
- shy away from
- bricks shy of a load
- fight shy of
- once bitten, twice shy