I know that in English I have to say "don't be shy" or "He is shy" etc. Always (at least for me) it is be + adjective. But I'm looking for the verb (or verbs) which denotes the same meaning and then I can use to + infinitive in the meaning which mentioned above.

  • 3
    I don't think there is a verb for this. Shy is a state of being, not an action. There is no verb for "he is handsome" or "he is tall" or "he is blue-eyed".
    – John Feltz
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 0:13
  • 1
    There is the phrasal verb shy away from, though I don't know if this is what you have in mind. The verb forms of shy are basically the same.
    – user3169
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 0:16
  • @user3169 interesting. Honestly I've never knew that the the word shy is also verb. So actually I can say "you don't need to shy from him" or something like that? I'm asking you about it because that as a non-English speaker I've never seen a using of this verb. Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 0:20
  • @Assiduous no, it means something different, closer to "avoid" : "The horse shied away from the bridle and ran to the other side of the corral"
    – Andrew
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 0:22
  • 3
    Your example "you don't need to shy from him" needs to be "you don't need to shy away from him". But not shy by itself.
    – user3169
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 0:25

1 Answer 1


To sum up:

The verb to shy is used to express a sudden movement especially of an animal:

(shies, shying, shied, shied BrE /ʃaɪd/ ; NAmE /ʃaɪd/)

  • [intransitive] shy (at something) (especially of a horse) to turn away with a sudden movement because it is afraid or surprised:

    • My horse shied at the unfamiliar noise. Her horse shied violently at a gorse bush.

But probably its more common usage is in the idiomatic expression:

shy away (from something):

  • to avoid doing something because you are nervous or frightened:

    • Hugh never shied away from his responsibilities. The newspapers have shied away from investigating the story.

As noted there are other less common, outdated usages:

  • "to throw (a missile) with a jerk or toss," 1787, colloquial, of unknown origin and uncertain connection to shy (adj.).

  • "to recoil," 1640s, from shy (adj.).

Note also the expression coconut shy:

  • a game at a fair where you throw balls at a row of coconuts and try to knock them down to win them

OLD, Etymonline

  • To further sum up, shy is a verb as well as an adjective, but none of its meanings are exactly the same as "to be shy", so you can't use it as a direct replacement.
    – stangdon
    Commented Oct 7, 2016 at 12:01

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