- 1: easily frightened : timid
- 2: disposed to avoid a person or thing <publicity shy>
- 3: hesitant in committing oneself : circumspect
- 4: sensitively diffident or retiring : reserved; also : expressive of such a state or nature <a shy smile>
- 5: secluded, hidden
- 6: having less than the full or specified amount or number : short <just shy of six feet tall>
- 7: disreputable <gambling hells and shy saloons — Blackwood's>
In humans, shyness (also called diffidence) is a social psychology term used to describe the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness experienced when a person is in proximity to, approaching, or being approached by other people, especially in new situations or with unfamiliar people. Shyness may come from genetic traits, the environment in which a person is raised and personally experiences. There are many degrees of shyness. Stronger forms are usually referred to as social anxiety or social phobia. Shyness may merely be a personality trait or can occur at certain stages of development in children. Shyness has also a strong cultural dimension.
In biology, shy generally means "tends to avoid human beings"; See crypsis. Shyness in gorillas manifests with ostensibly similar behavioral traits, but differs wholly from humans in cognition and motivation.