late Old English sceoh "timid, easily startled, shrinking from contact with others," from Proto-Germanic *skeukh(w)az "afraid" (source also of Middle Low German schüwe, Dutch schuw, German scheu "shy;" Old High German sciuhen, German scheuchen "to scare away"). Uncertain cognates outside Germanic, unless in Old Church Slavonic shchuti "to hunt, incite." Italian schivare "to avoid," Old French eschiver "to shun" are Germanic loan-words. Meaning "lacking, short of" is from 1895, American English gambling slang. Related: Shyly; shyness.