Main definitions of shy in English

: shy1shy2

shy1

adjective

  • 1Being reserved or having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people.

    ‘I was pretty shy at school’
    ‘a shy smile’
    • ‘Who would have known behind that shy smile was a major flirt.’
    • ‘But there, a team of dedicated sheepdogs is helping individuals ranging from bullied children to shy businessmen become more assertive.’
    • ‘He seemed very shy and nervous, and getting words out of his mouth was like pulling teeth.’
    • ‘Thanks to that shy reader who furnished me with the above information.’
    • ‘Cole believes it's the stress that shy people constantly experience which leaves them more vulnerable to disease.’
    • ‘A third explanation for our finding is that shy children may be more sensitive to the symptoms of illness or more likely to reflect on their internal states.’
    • ‘We need to find ways of ensuring that shy people can live in this coming transparent society without becoming second-class citizens.’
    • ‘Cyrio looked up at that, furrowed his brow, then smiled that shy smile of his that made his eyes twinkle.’
    • ‘Jayalalitha, a once shy, timid, tiny introvert, was so outstanding in her studies that her portrait hangs in her school as a star alumnus with academic excellence as her only passion.’
    • ‘He rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment, giving a shy smile.’
    • ‘I've gone from being shy and timid, to being quietly confident and assured.’
    • ‘The good news is that shy people eventually achieve everything that everyone else does - they date, marry, have children.’
    • ‘She was absolutely charming, rather maternal and incredibly shy herself.’
    • ‘I've found that shy guys tend to go for the real outgoing girls because they're easiest to spot.’
    • ‘My dad (who I think is very shy himself deep down) gave me a talk once about how social interaction was a big game that you just needed to learn how to play.’
    • ‘There were more days on which shy children complained of unwellness and parents observed symptoms of unwellness than for nonshy children.’
    • ‘I was so shy it was unbelievable and it never occurred to me that I could get into this business.’
    • ‘Interviewees reported that shy students were more vulnerable to teasing.’
    • ‘His smile is shy, almost gentle, and his eyes dart nervously around him.’
    • ‘And he grinned that shy little grin that I was learning to love.’
    bashful, diffident, timid, sheepish, reserved, reticent, introverted, retiring, self-effacing, shrinking, withdrawn, timorous, mousy, fearful, apprehensive, nervous, hesitant, reluctant, doubting, insecure, wary, suspicious, chary, unconfident, inhibited, constrained, repressed, self-conscious, embarrassed, coy, demure, abashed, modest, humble, meek
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1shy aboutpredicative Slow or reluctant to do (something)
      ‘she has never been shy about discussing her efforts to raise aesthetic standards’
      • ‘She has never been shy of expressing her feminist opinions.’
      • ‘I wanted to take things slow, and was shy about being intimate.’
    2. 1.2in combination Having a dislike of or aversion to a specified thing.
      ‘not publicity-shy, he offers the camera a friendly look’
    3. 1.3 (of a wild mammal or bird) reluctant to remain in sight of humans.
      • ‘Normally shy, nocturnal animals, the great crested newts have reluctantly stepped into the limelight to highlight their cause.’
      • ‘Build a brush pile near your feeder to make sparrows, towhees, and other shy birds feel more at home, but be sure it won't harbor roaming cats.’
      • ‘I had long ago learned that when someone is moving about, in secluded wooded areas like this, the birds are more shy.’
      • ‘The shy birds were reluctant to cache when observed and often made fake deposits.’
      • ‘Today, this area of Broadland still attracts these shy birds.’
      • ‘One hundred years ago the shy birds were probably widespread across the North of England, but numbers declined as they suffered due to changes in agricultural practice.’
      • ‘Noise must be kept to a minimum, as tigers are shy.’
      • ‘The shy monkey species was already known to local tribespeople called the Wanyakyusa.’
      • ‘It was a nice day and with no guests about, the oddly shy pony boy should have been out soaking up the sun.’
      • ‘At first the animals were quite shy, but they have settled in well.’
      • ‘I never dreamed I would get so close to one of these shy animals.’
      • ‘Tapirs are shy, reclusive rainforest animals that live in nearly any wooded or grassy habitat with a permanent supply of water.’
      • ‘This rather shy animal is not easily sighted in the open and you are more likely to see or hear them in thick woodlands and forested parks.’
      • ‘The Opeh was an extremely shy bird, and very rarely came within sight of a human.’
      • ‘Lucy is a shy cat and I haven't succeeded yet in taking a picture of her.’
      • ‘The Department of Conservation has been on the hunt for our national icon in the Western Bay since November - but so far the shy birds have remained out of reach.’
      • ‘Do not shy away if the bird hisses at you and fluffs up its feathers, it is only bluffing.’
      • ‘They are a shy bird by nature and are wary of people.’
      • ‘But the quest for shy animals in the wild more often than not ends up being about all the other things you discover along the way.’
      • ‘They are not shy birds and may allow close views as they busily feed.’
  • 2shy ofinformal predicative Less than; short of.

    ‘he won the championship with a score three points shy of a world record’
    • ‘It is ten people shy of its target, although Mr Smith assured that the firm would not be pursuing any compulsory redundancies to make up the shortfall.’
    • ‘The share price closed the week at 513p, just shy of a three-year high of 522p.’
    • ‘It came in Tasmania in 1989 after an election left the Liberal party one seat shy of forming government.’
    • ‘I had studied and put too much effort into this test to have achieved 150 points shy of a perfect score.’
    • ‘A two-bedroom flat in bijou Holly Walk, not far from Hampstead Heath but not exactly in view of it either, was just fifty quid shy of a million pounds.’
    • ‘Italy began to pressurise and should have scored when Martin Castrogiovanni was stopped just shy of the line by a try-saving tackle from Mark Jones.’
    • ‘I remembered one particular competition when I was about eight years old and at least six years shy of my fellow competitors.’
    • ‘Ms White got 70 votes, which brought her to 680 still almost 100 shy of a quota.’
    • ‘It was he's 24th goal of the season, just one short of his all-time best and two shy of his record achieved many years ago at the other club.’
    • ‘The charity campaign is still shy of reaching its goal of $150,000.’
    • ‘The increase in the bank's value meant that it ended the week with a market capitalisation just shy of $6bn.’
    • ‘Ballinacourty are a young side and will benefit from this experience knowing that they were just a goal shy of forcing a replay.’
    • ‘In reply Tintenbar were able to knock off the required runs, but only after losing two wickets on 54, one shy of their target.’
    • ‘When the airplane ran out of runway, it was just shy of 60 knots.’
    • ‘They had chances to take three points at Liverpool and, with Everton slipping up, they would have been just one point shy of the prized fourth place.’
    • ‘The Grecians were held to a goal-less draw by visiting Forest Green in front of a bumper Bank Holiday crowd just shy of 5,000.’
    • ‘The company's shares trade just shy of the level that analysts say the printer business is worth all on its own.’
    • ‘His best fish was a massive common just two ounces shy of 20 lb.’
    • ‘Analysts believe it could have fallen as much as 10% shy of this target.’
    • ‘At least 10,000 shy of what police will be necessary to provide security for the elections.’
    1. 2.1 Before.
      ‘he left school just shy of his fourteenth birthday’
      • ‘I met Josh's mother Barbara when Natalie had just turned a year old and Josh was a month or two shy of his first birthday.’
      • ‘Just shy of its 180th birthday, the oldest political party in the country voted itself out of existence in early December.’
      • ‘However, on recommendation of the selectors and national cricket committee, the board ended his tenure just shy of a three-year reign.’
      • ‘But, just a few months shy of his 28th birthday, as well as reaching his peak physically, he feels that he is at his mental best, too.’
      • ‘I went to graduate school at one point, and stopped 12 hours shy of getting a masters of science in economics.’
      • ‘Days shy of the event's 15th anniversary, he was detained by authorities.’
      • ‘The board subsequently decided to call it quits, just shy of what would have been the Classic's 20th event.’
      • ‘But here we are, six days shy of the opening match, and anguish has given way to anticipation, fears to the prospect of euphoria.’
      • ‘He compiled them just two days shy of the anniversary of Darren's opening.’
      • ‘He died there in a hail of bullets over Labor Day weekend, two months shy of his 26th birthday.’
      • ‘We also found our way up the slopes of Corfu's highest mountain, Pantokrator, and to the ghost-hamlet of Perithia, just shy of the summit.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, the audience stopped just shy of eliciting an encore from these gentlemen, which is a shame.’
      • ‘How much people will pay in taxes and how much they pay for their schools and hospitals are not significant issues four years shy of a general election, say his supporters.’
      • ‘It was good old pop queen Madonna, three years shy of 50 and bouncing around like it was still 1985, who tackled the issue head on.’
      • ‘Just shy of 40, Ghillie looks forward to a new beginning.’
      • ‘John, who is just shy of 80, belongs to the old guard of journalism.’
      • ‘He was just shy of his 60th birthday and certainly had much more to do in his life.’
      • ‘At just shy of 21, these true young guns are no strangers to the industry.’
      • ‘Michelle Wie is expected to make it official today, a week shy of her 16th birthday.’
      • ‘He died today of natural causes, only 39 years old, just shy of his 40th birthday.’
  • 3(of a plant) not bearing flowers or fruit well or prolifically.

    • ‘Cyclamen Cyclamen are subtler and more elegant than poinsettia with delicate, silky, shy flowers and the dappled heart-shaped leaves.’
    • ‘A new work by Alan Bennett is like a shy plant that only flowers every now and then, but when it does gives enormous pleasure.’

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1(especially of a horse) start suddenly aside in fright at an object, noise, or movement.

    • ‘They all shied aside as the headlamps swept over them and the truck skidded to a halt.’
    • ‘Morgan almost stooped in mid-stride causing the horse to shy away.’
    • ‘They flinched and shied away from the sudden, loud noise, and I took that moment to bolt.’
    • ‘The incident happened when the horse was being led along the towpath on Sunday by her owner when she shied at a cycle barrier and bolted backwards.’
    • ‘He shied a bit from me, but Cae slipped a carrot into my hand.’
    • ‘Kathryn jumped and the gelding spooked as well, shying a few paces to the left and dragging Kathryn with him.’
    • ‘The stallion snorted in the way that only horses could and began to shy at something on the side of the trail.’
    • ‘Justine watched her father's steady hand movements towards the filly's head as she shied away.’
    • ‘Patton shows a marked insight into training horse and rider as he cautions against harsh movements with the bridle hand that would cause a horse to shy.’
    • ‘Dusty eased onto the bronco, who shied as soon as he felt weight on him.’
    • ‘He said she had fallen because ‘the camel shied at the passing traffic and jumped.’’
    • ‘His horse shied to the right, making room on the path for the newcomer.’
    • ‘At that moment, a flash of green and brown shot between them, and the black stallion shied, backing away, neighing.’
    • ‘His horse saw them, though, and tugged anxiously at the reins, shying away.’
    • ‘But the white horse shied away from her, his wild eyes showing their whites, ears laid back in fear.’
    • ‘She sat immobile for a moment before coming back to the present with a quick shake of her head, immediately cringing and shying away from him.’
    • ‘Hoss jumped, and the horse shied, the twin jolts coming together in the agony of his jawbone.’
    • ‘Charcoal stopped shying her feet and stood still, enjoying Laurel's attention.’
    • ‘His horse's nuzzled the hip of Irish's horse, causing Eye's horse to shy.’
    • ‘His horse shied a little as a score of men heavily armed marched loudly past, metal armour clanking.’
    wince, start, shy away, recoil, shrink, pull back, back away, draw back, withdraw, blench, cringe, squirm, quiver, shudder, shiver, tremble, quake, shake, quail, cower, waver, falter, hesitate, get cold feet, blanch
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1shy from Avoid doing or becoming involved in (something) due to nervousness or a lack of confidence.
      ‘don't shy away from saying what you think’
      • ‘In conversation, however, she doesn't shy from voicing her view that other countries could take a lesson from Sweden's liberal ways.’
      • ‘To its credit, the picture doesn't shy from depicting the horrific reality of execution by electric chair, although it stops short of coming down firmly in an anti-death penalty stance.’
      • ‘I wonder whether Hollywood execs shy from making that kind of movie because they think it might send the wrong message.’
      • ‘They avoided fighting whenever possible, yet did not shy from combat if it closed in.’
      • ‘It is not a coincidence that those more recent stories with which kids connect most strongly also don't shy from being gruesome.’
      • ‘Loach's best asset as a filmmaker is his ability to capture reality on film without hesitating and without ever shying away from life's nastier side.’
      • ‘Not being one to shy from having a little fun, I accepted.’
      • ‘It says I want a collaborative effort I can dominate, and I shy from a solo effort whose flaws rest on my shoulders alone.’
      • ‘Yet, as much as some nonprofits and foundations depend on bequests, most shy from a position that might offend their wealthy donors and board members.’
      • ‘According to the theories of the peace movement, shying away from these fights should have brought us peace.’
      • ‘It is a demanding task, and not always appreciated by members, most of who would shy from the invitation.’
      • ‘It is one that does not shy from drawing lessons from experience that cause us to revise even our deepest notions of right and wrong.’
      • ‘We are not shying from the responsibility but to put a three-year-old on the operating table when he's smiley and happy is not an option.’
      • ‘On the whole they are not afraid to have the tough conversations that men shy from.’
      • ‘His typography does revere words, but I would add that Martin likewise does not shy from absorbing the models of language to frame his work.’
      • ‘Buckley and chairman Dermot Gleeson did not shy from apologising in the fullest yesterday.’
      • ‘But Hardy does not shy from giving himself credit as well for the development of the sisters.’
      • ‘Shying away from easy answers must be different from shying away from all answers.’
      • ‘It's full of nasty, worrying stuff and advertisers might shy from hawking their wares so close to such uncomfortable viewing.’
      • ‘And although he is a married father-of-two, he says the thought of being stationed close to the Iraqi border is not something he would shy from.’
      flinch, demur, recoil, hang back
      View synonyms

noun

  • A sudden startled movement, especially of a frightened horse.

Origin

Old English scēoh ‘(of a horse) easily frightened’, of Germanic origin; related to German scheuen ‘shun’, scheuchen ‘scare’; compare with eschew. The verb dates from the mid 17th century.

Pronunciation

shy

/SHī//ʃaɪ/

Main definitions of shy in English

: shy1shy2

shy2

verb

[WITH OBJECT]dated
  • Fling or throw (something) at a target.

    ‘he tore the glasses off and shied them at her’
    throw, toss, fling, hurl, cast, lob, launch, flip, pitch, dash, aim, direct, propel, bowl
    View synonyms

noun

dated
  • An act of flinging or throwing something at a target.

    • ‘First class casters could reach way out to shy fish, and distant mangroves.’
    • ‘Non-striker Gordon Webster, running to the danger end, would have been well short of safety had the shy at the stumps been on target.’

Phrases

  • have a shy at

    • 1dated Try to hit something, especially with a ball or stone.

      • ‘Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan went for a quick run, Suresh Raina had a shy at the striker's end and the fielders turned towards square leg to appeal.’
      • ‘He seemed most happy with the chance that he has got to have a shy at the title.’
      • ‘Instead of having a shy at the stumps, the ball was relayed and the man was found short of ground. 114 for 5 was quite a slide from 76 / 2, but much batting was to follow in Anshu, Andrew and Anand.’
      • ‘Pietersen has a shy at the stumps, but misses with the Australian just about making his ground.’
      • ‘So good was their dominance that they did not allow the Chandigarh team to have a shy at the goal at all.’
      • ‘Though Raju and Onu had a shy at the goal it was way off target and when the match looked meandering, Army XI struck.’
      • ‘If they miss, the man backing up collects and has a shy at the next stump along the line.’
      • ‘Substitute David Mutendera needlessly had a shy at the striker's end and the resultant overthrow fetched the West Indies four valuable runs.’
      • ‘Sachin Tendulkar, the darling of cricket lovers over the years but one whose fan club has dwindled in the recent past, is the big man everybody likes to have a shy at nowadays.’
      • ‘I believe the lawyers are to have a shy at it.’
      1. 1.1archaic Attempt to do or obtain something.
        • ‘Though he is well behind the leaders, another Finn who could have a shy at a medal at least will be hammer thrower Olli-Pekka Karjalainen.’
      2. 1.2archaic Jeer at.
        ‘you are always having a shy at Lady Ann and her relations’
        • ‘‘There you go, Polly; you are always having a shy at Lady Anne and her relations,’ says Mr. Newcome, good-naturedly.’

Origin

Late 18th century: of unknown origin.

Pronunciation

shy

/SHī//ʃaɪ/