Definitions

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

  • adj. Easily startled; timid.
  • adj. Drawing back from contact or familiarity with others; retiring or reserved.
  • adj. Marked by reserve or diffidence: a shy glance.
  • adj. Distrustful; wary: shy of strangers.
  • adj. Not having paid an amount due, as one's ante in poker.
  • adj. Short; lacking: Eleven is one shy of a dozen.
  • intransitive v. To move suddenly, as if startled; start.
  • intransitive v. To draw back, as from fear or caution; recoil.
  • n. A sudden movement, as from fright; a start.
  • transitive v. To throw (something) with a swift motion; fling.
  • intransitive v. To throw something with a swift motion.
  • n. A quick throw; a fling.
  • n. Informal A gibe; a sneer.
  • n. Informal An attempt; a try.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Easily frightened; timid.
  • adj. Reserved; disinclined to familiar approach.
  • adj. Cautious; wary; suspicious.
  • adj. Short, insufficient or less than.
  • adj. Embarrassed.
  • v. To avoid due to timidness or caution.
  • v. To jump back in fear.
  • v. to throw a ball or other missile at a target
  • n. An act of throwing.
  • n. A place for throwing.
  • n. A sudden start aside, as by a horse.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Easily frightened; timid.
  • adj. Reserved; coy; disinclined to familiar approach.
  • adj. Cautious; wary; suspicious.
  • adj. Inadequately supplied; short; lacking.
  • adj. 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.
  • intransitive v. To start suddenly aside through fright or suspicion; -- said especially of horses.
  • transitive v. To throw sidewise with a jerk; to fling.
  • n. A sudden start aside, as by a horse.
  • n. A side throw; a throw; a fling.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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).
  • n. A sudden start aside, as from fear, especially one made by a horse.
  • To fling; throw; jerk; toss.
  • To throw off; toss or send out at random.
  • To throw a missile; specifically, to jerk.
  • n. A quick, jerking, or careless throw; a fling.
  • n. A fling; a sneer; a gibe.
  • n. A trial; an experiment.
  • Hence, in general, to lack; be short of: as, to be shy four dollars.
  • n. In cricket, a ball thrown instead of bowled.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. lacking self-confidence
  • adj. short
  • n. a quick throw
  • adj. wary and distrustful; disposed to avoid persons or things
  • v. start suddenly, as from fright
  • v. throw quickly

Etymologies

Middle English schey, from Old English scēoh.
Perhaps from shy1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • V. i.54 (121,7) [as shy, as grave, as just, as absolute] _As shy_; as reserved, as abstracted: _as just_; as nice, as exact: _as absolute_; as complete in all the round of duty.

    Notes to Shakespeare — Volume 01: Comedies

  • Most experts suggest that the term "shy" should not be used as a label.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • William Sears, a well-known author and pediatrician, feels very strongly that the term "shy" should be avoided.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • Los Angeles had lost a seventh game to Boston four times previously - but those teams didn't have Bryant, who's just one title shy of Michael Jordan's six rings after winning his second title without Shaquille O'Neal, his partner in the first three.

    News

  • They added Anderson to their O-line mix after losing Ogden, took care of rookie passer Joe Flacco, ran the ball solidly with a troika of backs and fell one win shy of reaching the Super Bowl.

    Keepers of the blind side: Left tackles the new money position

  • No matter how much cash the central bank pumps into the banking system, money isn't circulating to the broader economy as companies and individuals remain shy about borrowing, analysts say.

    Central Bank Expected to Expand Lending Facility

  • Lee came into the game one win shy of matching the record set by Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez for the best start to a postseason career.

    World Series PHOTOS: Giants Top Rangers, 11-7, In Game 1

  • July 1947 and was discharged in February 1949, serving almost four years total — 36 years shy from the 40 he claims.

    Heroes or Villains?

  • Ohio State slowly floated to the top of the Big Ten, winning the regular season championship, tournament championship and falling one win shy of the second 30-win season in the history of the program.

    Big Ten Conference

  • His writing didn't shy from the big big plots, which I love.

    Happy Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Day

Comments

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  • 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

  • I haave no comment.

    May 23, 2009

  • In NYPD Blue usage, short for shyster.

    October 29, 2008