Definitions

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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person who lacks courage.
  • adj. Cowardly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • To make afraid.

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

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

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French couard, from coue, tail, from Latin cauda.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • “Believe it, my lord, in mine own direct knowledge,
    without any malice, but to speak of him as my
    kinsman, he's a most notable coward, an infinite and
    endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker, the owner
    of no one good quality worthy your lordship's
    entertainment.”

    Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well, Act III, Scene VI, Lines 7-12.

    October 17, 2012