Definitions

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

  • adj. Moving quickly and lightly; lively.
  • adj. Restlessly active or nervous; restive.
  • adj. Undependably variable; mercurial or fickle.
  • adj. Shy; bashful.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Easily scared or startled; timid.
  • adj. wanton; changeable; fickle

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Easily frightened; timorous; shy; untrustworthy.
  • adj. Wanton; restive; freakish; volatile; changeable; fickle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Easily frightened; disposed to start, jump, or run, as if from fright.
  • Hence Shy; avoiding familiarity or intercourse; timid; retiring; coy.
  • Changeable; volatile; fickle: inconstant; capricious.
  • Deceitful; tricky; deceptive.

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

  • adj. unpredictably excitable (especially of horses)

Etymologies

Middle English, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse skjōta, to shoot; see shoot.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Still, shoppers remain skittish about the economic recovery, leaving the retail industry uncertain about the upcoming holiday season.

    September retail sales inch up

  • Bloomberg News Sales are rising, but companies remain skittish over demand.

    Consumer Spending Grates

  • Spirited horses, when not enough exercised, are often called skittish, when it is only play; and some grooms will punish them, but our John did not; he knew it was only high spirits.

    Black Beauty

  • The mare was not "skittish" -- by no means -- according to Tom's idea, but it would have been more than an ordinary mare to have stood the sudden descent of half-a-ton of snow without _some_ symptoms of consciousness.

    The Young Fur Traders

  • The mare was not "skittish" -- by no means -- according to Tom's idea, but it would have been more than an ordinary mare to have stood the sudden descent of half a ton of snow without _some_ symptoms of consciousness.

    The Young Fur Traders

  • But if some investors are skittish, that isn't reflected in the Treasury bond data.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • Not knowing if they're going to play is only going to make them more skittish, which is really the last thing we need.

    Arseblog

  • Ellie Mae, described as a skittish, one-and-a-half year old, medium-sized, beagle-shepherd mix, ran away from a volunteer dog walker on Independence Pass on March 3, according to Anne Gurchick, assistant director of the Aspen / Pitkin Animal Shelter.

    The Vail Trail - All Sections

  • A few days before the firings in late 2006, then Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty e-mailed he was a little "skittish" about Bogden's firing but did not intervene to take his name off the list.

    Fired U.S. Attorney gets second chance

  • He has delivered a few paid speeches, done some mediation work and plans to do some arbitration, but said law firms have been "skittish" about hiring him.

    Gonzales Defends Role in Antiterror Policies

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Comedy troupe malady.

    April 14, 2009

  • Taste The Strainbow

    September 26, 2008

  • "But there is something charming about Easter's skittish date, and the way the holiday arrives as a surprise - even if it is not quite what th Council of Nicaea intended."
    The Guardian, 21 March 2008

    March 21, 2008