Definitions

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

  • adj. Unfaithful or disloyal to a belief, duty, or cause.
  • adj. Craven or cowardly.
  • n. A faithless or disloyal person.
  • n. A coward.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. disloyal, unfaithful, surrendering allegiance.
  • adj. cowardly, craven
  • n. Somebody who is recreant. A person who yields in combat, or is cowardly and faint-hearted.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Crying for mercy, as a combatant in the trial by battle; yielding; cowardly; mean-spirited; craven.
  • adj. Apostate; false; unfaithful.
  • n. One who yields in combat, and begs for mercy; a mean-spirited, cowardly wretch.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Ready to yield in fight; acknowledging defeat; hence, craven; cowardly. Compare craven.
  • Unfaithful to duty; betraying trust.
  • n. One who yields in combat and cries craven; one who begs for mercy; hence, a meanspirited, cowardly, or unfaithful wretch.

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

  • n. an abject coward
  • n. a disloyal person who betrays or deserts his cause or religion or political party or friend etc.
  • adj. having deserted a cause or principle
  • adj. lacking even the rudiments of courage; abjectly fearful

Etymologies

Middle English recreaunt, defeated, from Old French recreant, present participle of recroire, to yield in a trial by combat, surrender allegiance, from Medieval Latin recrēdere, to yield, pledge : Latin re-, re- + Latin crēdere, to believe; see kerd- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French recreant 'yielding, giving', from the verb recroire "to yield in a trial by combat, surrender allegiance", itself from re- 'again, back' + croire 'to entrust, believe' (from Latin credere). In use in English as an adjective, meaning "confessing oneself to be overcome or vanquished," since the 14th century, the usage as a noun for a coward or faint-hearted was first recorded from the 15th century. The modern sense of "unfaithful to duty" is modern, first attested in 1643 (OED). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • He whom thou hast called recreant knight, has been Saxon host.

    Harold : the Last of the Saxon Kings — Volume 12

  • a 'recreant' -- just what needs the slight punishment of instant death to the remarker -- and ... where is the way?

    The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, Vol. 1 (of 2) 1845-1846

  • A Spanish soldier is represented dragging a fugitive Indian from a lake by a lasso around his neck; while on the shore stands a monk ready to baptize the recreant on his arrival!” [

    Nagualism A Study in Native American Folk-lore and History

  • "recreant," had he wavered when the descendant of Mary Stuart claimed his services.

    Memoirs of the Jacobites of 1715 and 1745 Volume II.

  • A mosaic of images depicting your chronic laziness, unearned ego, and recreant cruelty.

    Mare

  • “The last innocent has suffered at your hands, recreant,” grimly intoned THE WRAITH.

    Masked

  • If her conduct was forward, well, her connubial expectations had been dashed by the recreant Popplewell, and the arrival of Flashy with whiskers rampant must have seemed like the answer to a randy young matron's prayer.

    THE NUMBERS

  • Could he be blamed as recreant if he had helped his unexpected ally to break out and return to his prince?

    His Disposition

  • For he was recreant, he had exiled himself, knowing well what he was doing.

    A River So Long

  • I went striding back down the valley, then, singing "A-hunting we will go", if I remember rightly, and was just in time to see Yakub and Kutebar return from their meeting with Buzurg Khan in a fine rage: the overlord had refused to risk any of his people in what he, the shirking recreant, regarded as a lost hope.

    The Sky Writer

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Comments

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  • Not many English words end in -creant.... e.g. miscreant - any others to suggest or list?

    September 29, 2009

  • LEAR
    Hear me, recreant, on thine allegiance, hear me;
    Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,
    Which we durst never yet, and with strained pride
    To come between our sentence and our power,
    Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,
    Our potency made good, take thy reward.
    - King Lear

    September 29, 2009

  • "We must find
    An evident calamity, though we had
    Our wish, which side should win; for either thou
    Must, as a foreign recreant, be led
    With manacles through our streets, or else
    Triumphantly tread on thy country's ruin..."
    - William Shakespeare, 'The Tragedy of Coriolanus'.

    August 29, 2009