Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sneaking, malicious coward.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A malicious coward; a dishonorable sneak.
  • adj. meanly shrinking from danger, cowardly, dastardly
  • v. To dastardize.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Meanly shrinking from danger; cowardly; dastardly.
  • n. One who meanly shrinks from danger; an arrant coward; a poltroon.
  • transitive v. To dastardize.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A dullard; a simpleton.
  • n. A base coward; a poltroon; one who meanly shrinks from danger, or who performs malicious actions in a cowardly, sneaking manner.
  • n. Synonyms Poltroon, Craven, etc. See coward.
  • Characterized by base cowardice; meanly shrinking from danger, or from the consequences of malicious acts.
  • To make dastard; intimidate; dispirit.
  • To call one dastard or coward.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. despicably cowardly
  • n. a despicable coward

Etymologies

Middle English, probably alteration of Old Norse dæstr, exhausted, from past participle of dæsa, to languish, decay.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
ME, most likely from Old Norse dæstr ("exhausted"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "... only that name remains;
    The cruelty and envy of the people,
    Permitted by our dastard nobles, who
    Have all forsook me, hath devour'd the rest,
    And suffer'd me by the voice of slaves to be
    Whoop'd out of Rome."
    - William Shakespeare, 'The Tragedy of Coriolanus'.

    August 29, 2009

  • Exact words were never spoken, but Miss Christie had come to live in the belief that Miss Nicholl and Mrs. Hazelton had grown up together, would in fact have made a joint debut had it not been for the death of Miss Nicholl's father, too innocent a soul to mistrust the dastard who managed his financial affairs; so Miss Nicholl had had to go to work and, naturally, her path had split wide from Mrs. Hazelton's.
    —Dorothy Parker, 'The Bolt behind the Blue'

    November 12, 2008

  • Drat Saddam, a mad dastard!

    October 18, 2008

  • Which explains someone being dastardly.

    August 23, 2008

  • "My client, an innately bashful man, would be the last man in the world to do anything ungentlemanly which injured modesty could object to or cast a stone at a girl who took the wrong turning when some dastard, responsible for her condition, had worked his own sweet will on her."
    Joyce, Ulysses, 15

    February 5, 2007