Word Confusion: Coy versus Koi

Posted February 11, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 22 August 2017

The sentence which inspired this word confusion, coy versus koi, was “the gleaming scales of gold and silver coy sparkled as they swam beneath the surface”. I had to read it several times before, duh, I realized the author meant koi. Fish. Not that someone was being flirtatious or shy or that the author forgot to include a noun.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Coy Koi
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Still from the American film Love (1919 film) with Frank Hayes and Roscoe Arbuckle, on page 20 of the June 1919 Film Fun. The still caption states: that Fatty returns in the make-up of a hired girl. Father proves flirtatious.

“Love”, 1919, by Paramount Pictures is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Both parties appear coy.

A school of koi thrashing

“Koi at the Zoological Garden Aquarium in Berlin” is Diether’s own work under the GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons

I do love watching koi.

Part of Grammar:
Abbreviation; Adjective Noun
Plural: koi
[Military] Company

[Especially with reference to a woman] Making a pretense of shyness or modesty that is intended to be alluring

  • Reluctant to give details, especially about something regarded as sensitive
  • [Dated] Quiet and reserved
    • Shy
A common carp of a large ornamental variety, originally bred in Japan

She treated him to a coy smile of invitation.

He is coy about his age.

koi carp

In colder climates, koi hibernate in the winter.

Koi come in a variety of colors and sizes.

Comparative Adjective: coyer, coyest
Adverb: coyly
History of the Word:
Middle English from the Old French coi or quei, from the Latin quietus. The original sense was quiet or still (especially in behavior). A later meaning was modestly retiring, and hence (of a woman), meaning affecting to be unresponsive to advances. Early 18th century from the Japanese, carp.

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Pinterest Photo Credits

Fish in the Mini Zoo Land, Slovenske Konjice by breki74 from Maribor, Slovenia, (IMG_4984Uploaded by Sporti) is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.