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shrinking violet

Fig. someone who is very shy and not assertive. I am not exactly a shrinking violet, but I don't have the guts to say what you said to her.
See also: shrink, violet

a shrinking violet

a very shy person (usually negative) She's no shrinking violet. I wouldn't exactly describe him as a shrinking violet.
See also: shrink, violet

shrinking violet, a

An extremely shy person, as in She was a shrinking violet until she went away to college. This metaphoric idiom refers to the flower, but the precise allusion is unclear, since violets thrive under a variety of conditions and often are considered a garden weed. [Early 1900s]
See also: shrink

shrink back

To draw back instinctively, as in alarm; recoil: The dog shrank back in fear when I raised my hand.
See also: back, shrink

shrink from

1. To draw back instinctively from someone or something; recoil from someone or something: The cat shrank from my touch.
2. To show reluctance to engage in or do something; hesitate to perform something, especially out of fear: I will not shrink from my duty as captain to defend the ship. They will not shrink from prosecuting each of us if they catch us stealing.
See also: shrink


n. a psychoanalyst or psychotherapist. I dropped a bundle on a shrink, but it didn’t help me.

shrinking violet

A shy person. The violet flower gives the impression of shyness, growing as it does close to the protective ground and often beneath other plants, shrubs and trees. Compared to other larger foliage, violets do seem to look as though they are shrinking, growing smaller. As applied to shy people, the phrase first appeared in both America and Great Britain in the 1820s.
See also: shrink, violet
References in classic literature ?
He shrank from the venerable saint as if to avoid an anathema.
Often, waking suddenly at midnight, he shrank from the bosom of Faith; and at morning or eventide, when the family knelt down at prayer, he scowled and muttered to himself, and gazed sternly at his wife, and turned away.
Virginia could see that the creature who bore her was not deformed of body, but she shrank from the thought of what a sight of his face might reveal.
He knelt down and began to unlace her shoes, while Hilda shrank into the chair.
The Alderman, being of a sensitive, retiring disposition, shrank from further comparison, and, strolling to another part of the garden, stole the camel.
In horror of herself, she turned her head aside in silence and shrank from meeting his eye.
She had expected to be questioned anxiously about herself--and while she desired it she shrank from the answers she would have to make.
Like some wild creature scared by the first touch of a net falling on its back, old de Barral began to struggle, lank and angular, against the empty air-- as much of it as there was in the cab--with staring eyes and gasping mouth from which his daughter shrank as far as she could in the confined space.
I shrank then--I shrink still--from invading the innermost sanctuary of her heart, and laying it open to others, as I have laid open my own.
During 1992-1993, he found that among big adults, the iguanas that shrank more lived longer.