adjective, shy·er or shi·er, shy·est or shi·est.
- 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.
verb (used without object), shied, shy·ing.
- (especially of a horse) to start back or aside, as in fear.
- to draw back; recoil.
noun, plural shies.
- a sudden start aside, as in fear.
- fight shy of, to keep away from; avoid: She fought shy of making the final decision.
adjective shyer, shyest, shier or shiest
- 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
verb shies, shying or shied (intr)
- to move suddenly, as from fearthe horse shied at the snake in the road
- (usually foll by off or away) to draw back; recoil
noun plural shies
- a sudden movement, as from fear
verb shies, shying or shied
- to throw (something) with a sideways motion
noun plural shies
- a quick throw
- informal a gibe
- informal an attempt; experiment
- short for cockshy
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.
Avoid meeting or confronting someone, as in “I have … had to fight shy of invitations that would exhaust time and spirits” (Washington Irving, Life and Letters, 1821). This usage may allude to a military reluctance to meet or engage with the enemy. [Late 1700s]
In addition to the idiom beginning with shy
- shy away from
- bricks shy of a load
- fight shy of
- once bitten, twice shy