(shier or shyer; shiest or shyest)
Etymology: Middle English schey, from Old English scēoh; akin to Old High German sciuhen to frighten off
Date: before 12th century
1. easily frightened ; timid
2. disposed to avoid a person or thing <publicity shy> 3. hesitant in committing oneself ; circumspect 4. sensitively diffident or retiring ; reserved; also expressive of such a state or nature <a shy smile> 5. secluded, hidden 6. having less than the full or specified amount or number ; short <just shy of six feet tall> 7. disreputable <gambling hells and shy saloons — Blackwood's> • shyly adverb • shyness noun Synonyms: shy, bashful, diffident, modest, coy mean not inclined to be forward. shy implies a timid reserve and a shrinking from familiarity or contact with others <shy with strangers>. bashful implies a frightened or hesitant shyness characteristic of childhood and adolescence <a bashful boy out on his first date>. diffident stresses a distrust of one's own ability or opinion that causes hesitation in acting or speaking <felt diffident about raising an objection>. modest suggests absence of undue confidence or conceit <modest about her success>. coy implies a pretended shyness <put off by her coy manner>. II. intransitive verb (shied; shying) Date: 1649 1. to develop or show a dislike or distaste — usually used with from or away from <an author who shies away from publicity> 2. to start suddenly aside through fright or alarm III. noun (plural shies) Date: 1791 a sudden start aside (as from fright) IV. verb (shied; shying) Etymology: perhaps from 1shy Date: 1787 intransitive verb to make a sudden throw transitive verb to throw (an object) with a jerk ; fling V. noun (plural shies) Date: 1791 1. the act of shying ; toss, throw 2. a verbal fling or attack 3. cockshy
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.