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[koi] /kɔɪ/
adjective, coyer, coyest.
artfully or affectedly shy or reserved; slyly hesitant; coquettish.
shy; modest.
showing reluctance, especially when insincere or affected, to reveal one's plans or opinions, make a commitment, or take a stand:
The mayor was coy about his future political aspirations.
Archaic. disdainful; aloof.
Obsolete. quiet; reserved.
verb (used without object)
Archaic. to act in a coy manner.
verb (used with object), Obsolete.
to quiet; soothe.
to pat; caress.
Origin of coy
1300-50; Middle English < Anglo-French coi, quoy calm, Old French quei < Vulgar Latin *quētus, for Latin quiētus quiet1
Related forms
coyish, adjective
coyishness, noun
coyly, adverb
coyness, noun
overcoy, adjective
overcoyly, adverb
overcoyness, noun
uncoy, adjective
uncoyly, adverb
uncoyness, noun
2. retiring, diffident, bashful, demure. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for coy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Meantime the big Mexican, coy, showed up from somewhere, just as Foster had.

    The Story of the Outlaw Emerson Hough
  • And Mrs. Oldaker, with a coy fillip of her fan, called him a naughty boy.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • He began, with coy hesitancy, to beat his scruples around the bush, which was not a bad lead.

    The Missourian Eugene P. (Eugene Percy) Lyle
  • Just from that you can realize how he had me guessing, for it takes quite some jolt to make me coy.

    Once to Every Man Larry Evans
  • The coy warrior-maiden would fain break her plighted word; and we, here in our weakness, shall perish from her wrath.

    The Story of Siegfried James Baldwin
British Dictionary definitions for coy


(usually of a woman) affectedly demure, esp in a playful or provocative manner
shy; modest
evasive, esp in an annoying way
Derived Forms
coyish, adjective
coyly, adverb
coyness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French coi reserved, from Latin quiētusquiet
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for coy

early 14c., "quiet, modest, demure," from Old French coi, earlier quei "quiet, still, placid, gentle," ultimately from Latin quietus "resting, at rest" (see quiet (n.)). Meaning "shy" emerged late 14c. Meaning "unwilling to commit" is 1961. Related: Coyly; coyness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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