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reserved, shy


bashful = schüchtern, schamhaft, verlegen, scheu, verschämt —— bashful laugh = Verlegenheitslachen —— bashful smile verschämtes Lächeln



“Turns out that our BASHFUL Bulgarian socialism was more open than Francoist censorship after all; today Spanish readers are able to read that missing page of The Godfather thanks to the translation of The Physics of Sorrow from Bulgarian. Funny.”

Anthony Cummins — The Guardian (17th February 2024)


“As he finished his regular 6.30 a.m. swim, Charles was intercepted by Jane Priest, a bikini-clad 26-year-old model who giggled as she placed her hands on the BASHFUL royal’s shoulders and, to his surprise, planted a kiss on his cheek.”

Nicole Mowbray — CNN (5th May 2023)

Did you


- socially shy or timid, diffident, self-conscious

- often feeling uncomfortable with other people and easily embarrassed

- disposed to attempt to avoid notice through shyness or modesty; diffident; timid

Merriam-Webster, Cambridge Dictionary, Collins Dictionary


The adjective "bashful" has an interesting etymology that traces back to the mid-16th century. It is derived from the word "abashed" from the Middle English word abasshen, which means "to lose one's composure" or "to be dismayed" and is related to the Old French esbaissier, meaning "to bring down" or "humiliate”.


A fascinating fact about bashfulness is its potential genetic basis. Studies suggest that about 20% of people are born with a temperament that makes them more likely to be shy. This innate predisposition is often noticeable from early childhood, with bashful children showing heightened sensitivity to new stimuli and unfamiliar situations.

Charles Darwin fell squarely into this category. Despite his groundbreaking contributions to science, Darwin was known to be exceedingly bashful, often avoiding public speaking and social gatherings. Instead, he preferred the solitude of his study and the quiet companionship of his family. His shyness did not hinder his intellectual pursuits but rather shaped his methodical and introspective approach to scientific inquiry.

Bashfulness, while sometimes seen as a social hindrance, can also be a source of strength, encouraging introspection, careful observation, and an appreciation for the subtleties of human interaction.


abashed, a shrinking violet, a wallflower, awkward, backward, BASHFUL, bashful as a bride, blushing, bottled up, canny, cautious, clammed up, coy (as a kitten), demure, diffident, embarrassed, faint-hearted, guarded, hesitant, humble, inhibited, introverted, keep to oneself, keeps one's cards close to the chest, meek, modest (as a mouse), mouse-like, mousey, nervous, not one to blow one's own trumpet, on the quiet side, played close to the vest, quiet as a church mouse, recessive, recoiling, reserved, retiring, reticent, self-conscious, self-effacing, sheepish, shell-like, shrinking, shy, socially awkward, soft-spoken, stand-offish, subdued, tentative, timid, tongue-tied, tremulous, unassertive, unassuming, uncomfortable in the spotlight, unconfident, withdrawn

SMUGGLE OWAD into a sentence, say something like:

“A career in sales would not be the first choice for someone with a BASHFUL temperament.”

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