Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One who shows ignoble fear in the face of danger or pain.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make afraid.
  • noun One who lacks courage to meet danger; one who shrinks from exposure to possible harm of any kind; a timid or pusillanimous person; a poltroon; a craven.
  • noun In heraldry, an animal represented with the tail hanging down, or turned up between the legs, as a lion or other beast of prey. Also coué.
  • Lacking courage; timid; timorous; fearful; craven: as, a coward wretch.
  • Of or pertaining to a coward; proceeding from or expressive of fear or timidity: as, a coward cry; coward tremors.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A person who lacks courage; a timid or pusillanimous person; a poltroon.
  • transitive verb obsolete To make timorous; to frighten.
  • adjective (Her.) Borne in the escutcheon with his tail doubled between his legs; -- said of a lion.
  • adjective Destitute of courage; timid; cowardly.
  • adjective Belonging to a coward; proceeding from, or expressive of, base fear or timidity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A person who lacks courage.
  • adjective Cowardly.

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

  • noun a person who shows fear or timidity
  • noun English dramatist and actor and composer noted for his witty and sophisticated comedies (1899-1973)

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old French couard, from coue, tail, from Latin cauda.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French coart, cuard ( > French couard), from coe ("tail") + -ard ("pejorative agent noun"); coe is in turn from Latin cauda. The reference seems to be to an animal “turning tail”, or having its tail between its legs, especially a dog.

Examples

  • I hope that the FSSPX can join us before that day so that the term coward will not have to be appropriately applied, for once, and to a much more horrible effect.

    RORATE CÆLI

  • No this coward is always hiding and pointing fingers.

    Rumsfeld says Obama made 'bald misstatement'

  • He admits that the affair was only the symptom of a deeper malaise- his chafing at a number of things which he now wishes he had been brave enough to confront rather than taking what he calls the coward's way out....

    Sleepy, soul sista, reading Hisham Matar, family politics etc

  • He admits that the affair was only the symptom of a deeper malaise- his chafing at a number of things which he now wishes he had been brave enough to confront rather than taking what he calls the coward's way out....

    Archive 2006-11-01

  • The word 'coward' is a strong one, but the reality is that because we have such wildly different perspectives on why racial disparities exist, and because they continue to exist long after explicit racism has been outlawed, discussion of racial issues requires a high degree of tolerance for conflict, both intellectual and emotional.

    Guest Post:: It Takes a Nation of Cowards to Prove Eric Holder Right

  • The word 'coward' is a strong one, but the reality is that because we have such wildly different perspectives on why racial disparities exist, and because they continue to exist long after explicit racism has been outlawed, discussion of racial issues requires a high degree of tolerance for conflict, both intellectual and emotional.

    Archive 2009-02-01

  • I put my face deep into my hands, then onto my knees and said the word coward silently, again and again, till I heard Fare’s voice.

    Noble Norfleet

  • I put my face deep into my hands, then onto my knees and said the word coward silently, again and again, till I heard Fare’s voice.

    Noble Norfleet

  • How could this bit*h accuse Murtha, a decorated Veteran, a coward is beyond belief.

    Think Progress » Stimulus Hypocrisy Can’t Even Pass The Fox News Laugh Test: Cavuto Hits GOP For ‘Being Selective’ In Its ‘Rage’

  • This coward is just doing what the voters were going to do in November anyway.

    Stupak to announce retirement

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