from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- intransitive v. To kneel and touch the forehead to the ground in expression of deep respect, worship, or submission, as formerly done in China.
- intransitive v. To show servile deference. See Synonyms at fawn1.
- n. The act of kneeling and touching the forehead to the ground.
- n. An obsequious act.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- v. To kneel and bow low enough to touch one’s forehead to the ground.
- v. To bow very deeply.
- v. To act in a very submissive manner.
- n. The act of kowtowing.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. The prostration made by mandarins and others to their superiors, either as homage or worship, by knocking the forehead on the ground; same as kotow. There are degrees in the rite, the highest being expressed by three knockings.
- intransitive v. To perform the kowtow. Same as kotow
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- See kotow.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a former Chinese custom of touching the ground with the forehead as a sign of respect or submission
- v. try to gain favor by cringing or flattering
- v. bend the knees and bow in a servile manner
From Chinese (Mandarin) kòu tóu, a kowtow : kòu, to knock + tóu, head.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Cantonese 叩頭 / 叩头 (kau3 tau4) kau3 ‘knock’ + tau4 ‘head’; Chinese Mandarin 叩頭 / 叩头 (kòutóu) kòu ‘knock’ + tóu ‘head’. (Wiktionary)