Easily startled; timid: a shy deer. Tending to avoid contact or familiarity with others; retiring or reserved: a shy student who stayed in the back of the room. Characterized by reserve or diffidence: a shy glance. Distrustful; wary: shy of strangers. Not having a sufficient or specified amount, as of money: was shy $100 on his rent; was two victories shy of the school record. To move suddenly or draw back, as if startled or afraid: The horse shied at the loud sound. To avoid engaging in, treating, or discussing something:"a film adaptation that would not shy away from the novel's controversial themes"(Scot French). A quick throw; a fling. Informal A gibe; a sneer. Informal An attempt; a try.