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

  • adjective Cowardly; timid.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • White-livered; cowardly.

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

  • adjective White-livered; cowardly.

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

  • adjective idiomatic Cowardly, lacking bravery.

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

  • adjective easily frightened


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

[From lily, pale, bloodless.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

The first known use of lily-livered was in 1605. From the medieval belief that the liver was the seat of courage, and the pale color of the lily flower. A person who had no blood in their liver would have no courage and would thus be a coward.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word lily-livered.


  • The Guardian staff are described as "lily-livered gits hiding in their glass offices."

    Wikileaks Chief Julian Assange Claims 'I Am No Rapist' After Released Autobiography 2011

  • President Obama is supposed to be a lily-livered liberal bleeding heart who wouldn't harm a fly on behalf of our citizens -- didn't he bow and scrape his way through Europe?

    Redstate's Comedy Stylings 2009

  • He would nevertheless be as likely to be labeled a lily-livered pacifist, or terrorist enabler, as the rest of them.

    Cynthia Wachtell: An American Tradition of War and War Protest Cynthia Wachtell 2010

  • Otherwise he was a lily-livered something or other—several expletives deleted.

    Fatal Error J.A. Jance 2011

  • Err, no: remember, Cuban troops were in Angola in the 1980s, Mozambique was Marxist, SWAPO was at least socialist and backed by Angola, and the ANC and SA Communist Party were joined at the hip [plus, the SACP was not one of yer lily-livered Eurocommunist parties: it was very hardline, even durign the Gorbachev era].

    Matthew Yglesias » After the Two-State Solution 2009

  • No. Oh, I am sure that there will be those who will defend this type of thing because when we are fighting terrorism all bets are off and that only lily-livered bleeding hearts would worry about things like the rule of law or other such silliness.

    Executive Action 2009

  • I believe that much of the low-level unpleasantness that you describe being visited upon you at large gatherings in the UK is precisely the result of lily-livered enforcement and presecution of such offences.

    7/7 Bombs – Police To Blame SHOCK! « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG Inspector Gadget 2010

  • "They're weak and lily-livered," Michael Clayton, a 54-year-old security consultant in Allen, Texas, said of GOP lawmakers who have worked toward a compromise on deficit reduction.

    Public Tilts Toward Debt-Cap Compromise Jonathan Weisman 2011

  • Compromise can be, and often is, the path of least resistance, the province of the mealy-mouthed, weak-kneed, and lily-livered.

    The Myth of Conservative Purity Peter Berkowitz 2011

  • You are a terrorist-shill with an agenda of 'Israel first and last'and you are a lily-livered coward.

    Bill aims to strip certain Americans of their citizenship 2010


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