Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Quiet and Shy

Quiet vs Shy


What is the difference between ‘quiet’ and ‘shy’?  At first, there may not seem to be a difference between these two traits.  People are often described as both ‘quiet and shy’, so the two terms are clearly related to each other. Being quiet and being shy are different though, but do have some similarities.

‘Quiet’ means not making much noise, not talking or calm.  These phrases can all be used to describe a quiet person.  Animate objects, such as people, and inanimate objects, such as things, can both be quiet. However the quality of shyness is a bit different.  Although a shy person is often quiet, shyness comes from anxiety or uncomfortableness.  A shy person does not feel comfortable to talk to other people, and they are easily embarrassed.  As a result, they usually avoid people and are seen as being quiet.  The term ‘shyness’ has an element of apprehension, nervousness and anxiety to it, and it is only applied to animate objects, like people. The difference lies in the fact, too, that a shy person doesn’t necessarily want to be alone, but is afraid to interact with others.  A shy person may be quiet, but it is only out of fear and nervousness.

There is the idea of timidity or being reserved with shyness, which allows those words and others to be used as synonyms. Although the word ‘bashful’ is often used interchangeably with ‘shy’, it carries the idea of hesitance and shyness associated with youth.  Another synonym of ‘shy’ is ‘diffident’ but this has a slightly different shade of meaning.  It carries the idea of a distrust or uneasiness of one’s abilities or opinions that causes hesitation. The word ‘coy’ implies a pretend shyness.

A simply quiet person, on the other hand, may not have anxiety or uncomfortableness around people, they may just prefer to not talk much or be around other people.  A technical word used for people like this is ‘introvert’. An ‘introvert’ is not a person who is shy, but a person who prefers to be alone and is happy to not be around other people all the time.  Another more casual term is ‘loner’, used for a quiet person that likes to be alone.  As well, the term ‘reserved’, can be used for a person that does not show their emotions or speak much.

There are also quiet people that do enjoy being around others, but prefer to not say much.  They can enjoy listening and watching other people, without feeling like they have to have attention on them by talking or participating in conversation. A synonym, ‘modest, has the variation of meaning of absence of undue or improper confidence. A person may likewise just speak with a low or soft voice in a calm manner.  These people, although neither shy nor introverted, can be described as ‘quiet’ or ‘soft-spoken’.

Although there are various synonyms related to the word ‘shy’ and ‘quiet’ there are slightly different meanings and usages associated with them. It is a good idea to remember that ‘quiet’ can, but does not necessarily mean ‘shy’.

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