"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[skit-ish] /ˈskɪt ɪʃ/
apt to start or shy:
a skittish horse.
restlessly or excessively lively:
a skittish mood.
fickle; uncertain.
shy; coy.
Origin of skittish
1375-1425; late Middle English, perhaps derivative of the Scand source of skite1; see -ish1
Related forms
skittishly, adverb
skittishness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for skittish
  • They're too skittish from years of predation by the big cats.
  • Reduce the equities portion and increase the bond if you are skittish or near retirement.
  • Despite their strong handshakes and leadership training, businessmen are skittish creatures, easily demoralised and deterred.
  • While skittish on land, they will entertain me for hours underwater.
  • Still, the scientists were still skittish in the years after.
  • And to say our chickens are skittish is nothing short of an understatement.
  • But the system of checks and balances has been tightened, making lenders increasingly skittish.
  • And fund raisers at the meeting said donors are feeling less skittish than they were in the fall and early part of this year.
  • But for a party that has been so pathetically skittish and reactive, it is perhaps time to try something new.
  • Get up close to these normally skittish animals of the woods and plains.
British Dictionary definitions for skittish


playful, lively, or frivolous
difficult to handle or predict
(rare) coy
Derived Forms
skittishly, adverb
skittishness, noun
Word Origin
C15: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse skjōta to shoot; see -ish
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 skittish

early 15c., "very lively, frivolous," perhaps from Scandinavian base *skyt- (stem of Old Norse skjota "to shoot, launch, move quickly"), from PIE root *skeud- "to shoot, to chase, to throw, to project" (see shoot (v.)). Sense of "shy, nervous, apt to run" first recorded c.1500, of horses. Related: Skittishly; skittishness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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