Meaning of coy


Take the adjective coy for a person who pretends to be shy but really isn’t, or someone who could give a definite answer but won’t. Coy behavior can be playful or just plain annoying.

Originally meaning “quiet and shy,” today someone who is coy pretends to be shy in a playful manner — often as a form of flirting. If a politician is coy about something, he or she only gives vague statements on an issue for fear of committing to a position or angering his or her constituency. Common to both of these senses is the fact that a person uses coyness to subtly manipulate his or her audience.

Definitions of coy
  1. adjective

    affectedly modest or shy especially in a playful or provocative way


    demure, overmodest


    not offensive to sexual mores in conduct or appearance
  2. adjective

    showing marked and often playful or irritating evasiveness or reluctance to make a definite or committing statement

    “a politician
    coy about his intentions”


    vague or not clearly defined or stated
  3. adjective

    modestly or warily rejecting approaches or overtures

    “like a wild young colt, very inquisitive but very
    coy and not to be easily cajoled”


    showing fear and lack of confidence

Word Family

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