Definition of coy in US English:

coy

adjectivecoyer, coyest

  • 1(especially with reference to a woman) making a pretense of shyness or modesty that is intended to be alluring.

    ‘she treated him to a coy smile of invitation’
    • ‘He wasn't so coy that he didn't realize he was a star.’
    • ‘Her smile was coy, and she playfully tilted her head, an inquisitive glimmer in her eyes.’
    • ‘"Don't play coy with me, " she said with a laugh.’
    • ‘She's coy enough to curdle butter, looking up at him from under her lashes.’
    • ‘There are plenty of hoots and whistles, derision for the woman's coy smile and smeared-on lipstick.’
    • ‘You're being much too coy with power - it's like you're playing hard to get or something.’
    • ‘I saw the girls giggle as they passed, flicking coy glances at me.’
    • ‘Aurora had stated gently, giving him a coy side glance without realizing it.’
    • ‘She gave him a coy glance and leaned over to whisper into his ear.’
    • ‘True, she's as coy and feminine as she wants to be.’
    • ‘A coy smile slipped onto his face, and he cocked his head slightly.’
    • ‘His second memoir can thus be read as a rather coy critique of his first.’
    • ‘She smiled at Rochelle and nodded with a coy smile playing on her lips.’
    • ‘But even those who decide to play coy won't have long to wait.’
    • ‘Gem returned the stare, a coy smile creeping its way onto her countenance.’
    • ‘We've flirted at balls, and she was as coy as a twenty-four year-old!’
    • ‘Everyone else acts coy, stupid, and young throughout the rest of episode.’
    • ‘"Because it's, um, embarrassing, " I said, trying to act so coy.’
    • ‘For a women who takes her clothes off for a living, Ms Deneuve is a bit coy.’
    • ‘"He seemed a bit coy and shy about it and he didn't even want any thanks.’
    arch, simpering, coquettish, flirtatious, kittenish, skittish
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Reluctant to give details, especially about something regarded as sensitive.
      ‘he is coy about his age’
      • ‘Wilder remained coy about his own political beliefs, at least publicly.’
      • ‘This was no time to be coy about asking for money.’
      • ‘The company pleads competitive sensitivity for being so coy on this.’
      • ‘The JVP leadership has been remarkably coy about providing an answer.’
      • ‘But she's coy about revealing how many, with what qualifications, or where they are based.’
      • ‘They should also know what symptoms to look out for and not be coy about seeking medical attention.’
      • ‘One reporter decided to be less coy and actually used the word ' groin ' in his copy!’
      • ‘In fact, the White House has been coy about the ‘reduction’ of nuclear weapons contemplated under NPR.’
      • ‘Nor was the administration coy about its reasons.’
      • ‘Yet he proves coy about his contract intentions.’
      • ‘The former Boro player himself remains coy on the subject but, tellingly, does not rule it out.’
      • ‘Adrian Eastwood is a little coy about the idea that bookies know better than polls or punters.’
      • ‘She is suddenly coy and protective of her creativity.’
      • ‘She is coy about how much is in the coffers, but says ACT is aiming to match what it spent in 2002.’
      • ‘As a writer she is coy about her influences, although she will admit to admiring Jilly Cooper.’
      • ‘Not surprisingly, the phone network companies are a little coy about admitting they have this ability.’
      • ‘Clifford is coy about this, ‘No, I think I've got my work cut out here quite frankly.’’
      • ‘In fact, the film is remarkably coy about sex in general.’
      • ‘Others have been far less coy on the subject of drug use.’
      • ‘Woods is coy about how he feels about Garcia's progress.’
    2. 1.2dated Quiet and reserved; shy.
      • ‘Adrienne was playing coy and quiet, wearing a look of supreme contentment on her face.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French coi, quei, from Latin quietus (see quiet). The original sense was ‘quiet, still’ (especially in behavior), later ‘modestly retiring’, and hence (of a woman) ‘affecting to be unresponsive to advances’.

Pronunciation

coy

/koi//kɔɪ/