What is a word or phrase that describes "a person who is having difficulty speaking with girls?"

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    Is it specifically girls or is it the opposite sex (a girl who has difficulty speaking with boys)? Is the difficulty related to a specific mode, like flirting? – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 12:50
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    computer programmer ;) – gbutters Jun 1 '11 at 12:56
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    @gbutters I resemble that remark! – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 13:20
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    Until I got married, "Jeff" would have been a good fit. – JeffSahol Jun 1 '11 at 14:21
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    For girls who have difficulty speaking to boys "wallflower" would do the job. – Christi Jun 1 '11 at 14:59

"Shy" would be a description of someone who has difficulty speaking with people. You could describe someone as "Shy around girls", but knowing more about why they were shy might lead us to a better phrase.

  • 7
    Bashful is close to shy as well. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 13:53
  • Excellent point, and much more associated with being shy around girls too. – user1579 Jun 1 '11 at 15:10
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    Also, an oddly popular name among dwarves. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 15:13
  • Great. I created an account here just so I could upvote this. – Brennan Vincent Jun 2 '11 at 4:21

I've seen in various old books (Vanity Fair, if I rightly recall) such a person described as a hobbledehoy, meaning an awkward, tongue-tied young man.

  • Neat word, and seems terribly obscure. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 19:03


In psychology, Parthenophobia refers to an abnormal and persistent fear of virgins or young girls.

Psychology Wiki

  • Is that derived from Parthenon - a place where virgins are found? – pavium Jun 1 '11 at 13:52
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    +1 Not exactly common usage, but I love that there's a word that mean "fear of virgins." It's going on my bulletin board right now. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 13:54
  • Heh. I don't think that's quite what he was going for, but I love the word. – T.E.D. Jun 1 '11 at 16:06
  • @pavium: the Parthenon is the temple of Athene Parthene, Athena the Virgin. So yes, in a way. – Tim Lymington Jun 2 '11 at 9:52
  • Except that doesn't seem to be a real condition, just a coined word. It's a neat word, and it means what it sounds like, but it's well, made up and not in common use. Wikis aren't always the best source for this kind of thing. – Mark Beadles Jun 29 '12 at 13:42

Someone who has difficulty speaking in stressful situations (such as the computer programmer and the girl) may be described as "tongue-tied".

  • Upvote for subtle Red Dwarf reference. – barrycarter Jan 7 '16 at 5:03

How about "selective mutist", a selective mutist is someone who cannot talk in certain conditions, but is quite chatty in others. For instance, a boy at school having difficulty chatting with other girls, but when he gets home, jokes around a lot with his sister.


If that wasn't clear enough, how about "parthenophobic selective mutist"....

  • I don't think mutist is a word. I think you want mute here. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 23:16
  • @Kit, not really sure myself, but it is taken from selective mutism. So someone who has selective mutism could be selective mutist, who is selectively mute in certain situations... – Thursagen Jun 2 '11 at 0:57
  • @Kit, I was doubtful about the term, but I saw a television program only a few days ago which described 'selective mutism' in various people. They didn't use the term selective mute, preferring the slightly more euphemistic selective mutist. – pavium Jun 13 '11 at 13:16
  • Upvote for subtle Big Bang Theory reference. – barrycarter Jan 7 '16 at 5:04

A geek or a computer geek could work for this kind of person.


"Painfully bashful" implies the person has a hard time talking or interacting with other people. "He was painfully bashful when in the presence of girls."


I would say Coy is related especially to Bashful/Shy - by not necessarily when talking to girls

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    "Coy" is more like not speaking for strategic purposes, rather than not being emotionally able to speak. – T.E.D. Jun 1 '11 at 16:08


This would be someone who chooses not to speak to women. Not out of fear or shyness but out of dislike. It has more of a negative connotation though.

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    I think misogynist is really extreme for this context, considering it implies hatred and mistrust of women and carries a very negative connotation. And though a misogynist might choose not to speak to a woman, I don't think that's a typical trait associated with misogynists. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 17:36
  • @Kit - My answer was based of a real life scenario. A professor where I went to school refused to speak to any female coworkers after he was accused of sexual harassment. – MVCylon Jun 1 '11 at 17:41

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