Definitions

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

  • adj. Cowardly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Archaic form of lily-livered.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having a pale look; feeble; hence, cowardly; pusillanimous; dastardly.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having (ac cording to an old notion) a light-colored liver, supposed to be due to lack of bile or gall, and hence a pale look—an indication of cowardice; hence, cowardly.

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

  • adj. easily frightened

Etymologies

From the notion that a deficiency of bile caused a pale liver and lack of vigor or courage.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The Meat boys are determined not to make any concessions to the white-livered weaker players among us: having run through its first world, I can assure you that there's essentially no such thing as a safe landing in any of Meat Boy's levels until you've reached the end.

    Ten for 2010: the 10 most-anticipated games coming in the new year Boing Boing

  • “A duel with a white-livered traitor like yerself?”

    Much Ado About Marriage

  • The manner in which Judas grew more white-livered over his victuals, and languished, with his head on one side, as if he had no appetite, defies all description.

    Pictures from Italy

  • The exact particulars of the similarity never came to light, but apparently the lady had, in a fit of high-minded inadvertence, had gone through the ceremony of marriage with, one quotes the unpublished discourse of Mr. Butteridge — “a white-livered skunk,” and this zoological aberration did in some legal and vexatious manner mar her social happines.

    The War in the Air

  • “Let the white-livered cowards have their way,” the old sailor said, contemptuously.

    Mary Anerley

  • “De Hamal is an unutterable puppy, besides being a very white-livered hero.”

    Villette

  • By this worthy frock of mine, quoth Friar John, thou hast a mind to slip thy neck out of the collar and absent thyself from the fight, thou white-livered son of a dunghill!

    Five books of the lives, heroic deeds and sayings of Gargantua and his son Pantagruel

  • My son is a coward — a white-livered mongrel dog — but all of Rome shall know him a coward under our name.

    The First Man in Rome

  • Tve but come from the last wine-shop open - Ishtar's curse on these white-livered reformers who close the grog-houses!

    The Conan Chronicles

  • ` I've but come from the last wine-shop open Ishtar's curse on these white-livered reformers who close the grog-houses!

    Black Colossus

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