shy 1[shahy] SynonymsExamplesWord Origin adjective, shy·er or shi·er, shy·est or shi·est.

  1. bashful; retiring.
  2. easily frightened away; timid.
  3. suspicious; distrustful: I am a bit shy of that sort of person.
  4. reluctant; wary.
  5. deficient: shy of funds.
  6. scant; short of a full amount or number: still a few dollars shy of our goal; an inch shy of being six feet.
  7. (in poker) indebted to the pot.
  8. not bearing or breeding freely, as plants or animals.

verb (used without object), shied, 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.


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

Origin of shy 1 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 Related formsshy·er, nounshy·ly, adverbshy·ness, nounSynonyms 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. 4. heedful, cautious, chary. 10. shrink.Antonyms for shy 1. forward. 2. trusting. 4. careless. 10. advance. shier 2or shy·er [shahy-er] noun

  1. a horse having a tendency to shy.

Origin of shier 2First recorded in 1820–30; shy1 + -er1 Related Words for shyer reticent, wary, cautious, diffident, demure, hesitant, introverted, fearful, nervous, humble, bashful, coy, modest, sheepish, circumspect, apprehensive, self-effacing, suspicious, timid, afraid Examples from the Web for shyer Historical Examples of shyer

  • Only now her trouble was different and greater, making her shyer and more reticent.

    Green Mansions

    W. H. Hudson

  • He was shyer than ever of addressing the ladies in those parties he was obliged to attend.

    The Rector

    Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant

  • I hope not a large assembly: for I get shyer and shyer even of those I knew.

    Letters of Edward FitzGerald

    Edward FitzGerald

  • She had been shyer in meeting him than in meeting Wilfrid, whom she had once loved.

    Vittoria, Complete

    George Meredith

  • Her grandson is so attentive to it, that Rosa is shyer than ever—and prettier.

    Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, No. XXIV, May 1852, Vol. IV


  • British Dictionary definitions for shyer shier 1 adjective

    1. a comparative of shy 1

    shier 2shyer noun

    1. a horse that shies habitually

    shy 1 adjective shyer, shyest, shier or shiest

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

    verb shies, shying or shied (intr)

    1. to move suddenly, as from fearthe horse shied at the snake in the road
    2. (usually foll by off or away) to draw back; recoil

    noun plural shies

    1. a sudden movement, as from fear

    Derived Formsshyly, adverbshyness, nounWord Origin for shy Old English sceoh; related to Old High German sciuhen to frighten away, Dutch schuw shy, Swedish skygg shy 2 verb shies, shying or shied

    1. to throw (something) with a sideways motion

    noun plural shies

    1. a quick throw
    2. informal a gibe
    3. informal an attempt; experiment
    4. short for cockshy

    Derived Formsshyer, nounWord Origin for shy C18: of Germanic origin; compare Old High German sciuhen to make timid, Middle Dutch schüchteren to chase away Word Origin and History for shyer shy adj.

    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.

    shy v.1

    “to throw (a missile) with a jerk or toss,” 1787, colloquial, of unknown origin and uncertain connection to shy (adj.). Related: Shied; shying.

    shy v.2

    “to recoil,” 1640s, from shy (adj.). Related: Shied; shying.

    Idioms and Phrases with shyer 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
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