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

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Contemporary Examples of skittish

Historical Examples of skittish

British Dictionary definitions for skittish



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