June 14, 2012
sheepish (adjective)
\SHEEP-ish\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : resembling a sheep (as in being meek or shy)2 : embarrassed especially over being found out in a fault
How do you use it?
"Tom was tugging at a button-hole and looking sheepish." (Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
Are you a word wiz?

Our example sentence is a quotation from Mark Twain's famous novel in which he describes a sheepish Tom Sawyer. One of the answers below sets out the next sentence in the story. Reread the definition of "sheepish," and then tell us which of these sentences you think tells what Tom did next.

As Twain writes in his story, Tom Sawyer finds himself in a situation that causes him to look "sheepish." A person who is sheepish is embarrassed and therefore likely to blush and avoid eye contact, as described in answer B. None of the other answers describes behavior characteristic of embarrassment. Twain was not the first to use the word "sheepish" in describing a person. It goes way back to the 13th century, when it was first used to mean "resembling a sheep in meekness or timidity." The sense of "embarrassed" as used by Twain did not appear until the 1700s.
Archive RSS Feed