shy

shy
Shy ‘timid, reserved’ [OE] goes back to a prehistoric Germanic *skeukhwaz ‘afraid’ (source also of English eschew and skew). It is generally assumed that shy ‘throw’ [18] must have come from it, but the exact nature of the relationship between the two words is not clear. The original application of the verb seems to shyster 456 have been specifically to the throwing of sticks at chickens, and it has been suggested, not altogether convincingly, that its use alludes to the notion of a ‘shy’ cockerel that refuses to fight (there was an 18th- and early 19th-century slang term shy-cock which meant ‘cowardly person’). => ESCHEW, SKEW

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

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