Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A knocking of the forehead on the ground while kneeling, as an act of homage, reverence, worship, respect, etc.
  • To knock the forehead on the ground while kneeling, as an act of reverence, worship, apology, etc.; perform the kotow; hence, to fawn or be obsequious; cringe.

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

  • noun China The prostration made by mandarins and others to their superiors, either as homage or worship, by knocking the forehead on the ground; a kowtow. There are degrees in the rite, the highest being expressed by three knockings.
  • intransitive verb To perform the kotow. Now usually spelled kowtow.

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

  • noun Alternative spelling of kowtow.
  • verb Alternative spelling of kowtow.

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

  • noun a former Chinese custom of touching the ground with the forehead as a sign of respect or submission
  • verb try to gain favor by cringing or flattering

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • Only on one occasion in the reign has an action of the Emperor's afforded ground for the suspicion that he was for a moment filled with the spirit of the Byzantine emperors -- namely, when he demanded the "kotow" from the Chinese Prince Tschun, who led the "mission of atonement" to Germany.

    William of Germany

  • It then transpired that the delay was caused by the Emperor's having suddenly intimated that he expected Prince Chun to make thrice to him, as he sat on his throne at Potsdam, the "kotow" as practised in the Court of China.

    William of Germany

  • In view of the surprise, laughter, and criticism of Europe, the Emperor modified his demand for the "kotow" to its symbolic performance by three deep bows.

    William of Germany

  • A young Chinese teacher from the university arrived in tears to warn them that they were to be killed before midnight: “He … fell at once upon his knees and he made the ancient kotow.”

    PEARL BUCK IN CHINA

  • A young Chinese teacher from the university arrived in tears to warn them that they were to be killed before midnight: “He … fell at once upon his knees and he made the ancient kotow.”

    PEARL BUCK IN CHINA

  • "I can't see why I should kotow to him, or what further harm he can do," said the candidate, but he deferred to Bowers's judgment.

    The Henchman

  • My boy, his accustomed serenity now quite disturbed, held threateningly above the head of the yamen runner (who had given me a profound kotow the evening previous prior to taking on his duties) a length of three-inch sugar cane; he evidently meant to flatten him out.

    Across China on Foot

  • Everywhere one finds the man or woman whose abilities are not recognized, who is discriminated against, who finds an enemy in every one who does not kotow and who interprets as hostile every action not directly conciliating or friendly.

    The Foundations of Personality

  • In view of the surprise, laughter, and criticism of Europe, the Emperor modified his demand for the “kotow” to its symbolic performance by three deep bows.

    William of Germany

  • It then transpired that the delay was caused by the Emperor's having suddenly intimated that he expected Prince Chun to make thrice to him, as he sat on his throne at Potsdam, the “kotow” as practised in the Court of China.

    William of Germany

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