[ skit-ish ]
/ ˈskɪt ɪʃ /


apt to start or shy: a skittish horse.
restlessly or excessively lively: a skittish mood.
fickle; uncertain.
shy; coy.

Origin of skittish

1375–1425; late Middle English, perhaps derivative of the Scand source of skite1; see -ish1
Related formsskit·tish·ly, adverbskit·tish·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for skittish

British Dictionary definitions for skittish


/ (ˈskɪtɪʃ) /


playful, lively, or frivolous
difficult to handle or predict
rare coy
Derived Formsskittishly, adverbskittishness, noun

Word Origin for skittish

C15: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse skjōta to shoot; see -ish
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 skittish



early 15c., "very lively, frivolous," perhaps from Scandinavian base *skyt- (stem of Old Norse skjota "to shoot, launch, move quickly"), from PIE root *skeud- "to shoot, to chase, to throw, to project" (see shoot (v.)). Sense of "shy, nervous, apt to run" first recorded c.1500, of horses. Related: Skittishly; skittishness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper