Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Easily startled; timid.
  • adjective Tending to avoid contact or familiarity with others; retiring or reserved.
  • adjective Characterized by reserve or diffidence.
  • adjective Distrustful; wary.
  • adjective Not having a sufficient or specified amount, as of money.
  • intransitive verb To move suddenly or draw back, as if startled or afraid.
  • intransitive verb To avoid engaging in, treating, or discussing something.
  • noun A sudden movement, as from fright; a start.
  • intransitive verb To throw (something) with a swift motion; fling.
  • intransitive verb To throw something with a swift motion.
  • noun A quick throw; a fling.
  • noun Informal A gibe; a sneer.
  • noun Informal An attempt; a try.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Readily frightened away; easily startled; skittish; timid.
  • Shrinking from familiarity or self-assertive-ness; sensitively timid; retiring; bashful; coy.
  • Keeping away from some person or thing through timidity or caution; fearful of approaching; disposed to avoid: followed by of.
  • Cautious; wary; careful: commonly followed by of or about.
  • Elusive; hard to find, get at, obtain, or accomplish.
  • Morally circumspect; scrupulous.
  • Keen; piercing; bold; sharp.
  • Sly; sharp; cunning.
  • Scant. The wind is said to be shy when it will barely allow a vessel to sail on her course.
  • Synonyms Diffident, shamefaced. See bashfulness.
  • To shrink or start back or aside, as in sudden fear: said specifically of a horse.
  • To avoid; shun (a person).
  • noun A quick, jerking, or careless throw; a fling.
  • noun A fling; a sneer; a gibe.
  • noun A trial; an experiment.
  • To fling; throw; jerk; toss.
  • To throw off; toss or send out at random.
  • To throw a missile; specifically, to jerk.
  • Hence, in general, to lack; be short of: as, to be shy four dollars.
  • noun In cricket, a ball thrown instead of bowled.
  • noun A sudden start aside, as from fear, especially one made by a horse.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To start suddenly aside through fright or suspicion; -- said especially of horses.
  • transitive verb To throw sidewise with a jerk; to fling.
  • noun A sudden start aside, as by a horse.
  • noun A side throw; a throw; a fling.
  • adjective Easily frightened; timid.
  • adjective Reserved; coy; disinclined to familiar approach.
  • adjective Cautious; wary; suspicious.
  • adjective Slang Inadequately supplied; short; lacking.
  • adjective (Poker), Slang owing money to the pot; -- in cases where an opponent's bet has exceeded a player's available stake or chips, but the player chooses to continue playing the hand before adding the required bet to the pot.
  • adjective See under Fight, v. i.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Easily frightened; timid.
  • adjective Reserved; disinclined to familiar approach.
  • adjective Cautious; wary; suspicious.
  • adjective Short, insufficient or less than.
  • adjective Embarrassed.

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Perhaps from shy.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English schey, from Old English scēoh.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English shy ("shy"), from Old English sċēoh ("shy"), from Proto-Germanic *skiuhwaz (“shy, fearful”). Cognate with Dutch schuw ("shy"), German scheu ("shy"), Danish sky ("shy").

Examples

Comments

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  • In NYPD Blue usage, short for shyster.

    October 29, 2008

  • I haave no comment.

    May 23, 2009

  • My dear old doll! I was such a shy little thing that I seldom dared to open my lips, and never dared to open my heart, to anybody else.

    -Charles Dickens Bleak House

    July 26, 2009