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

  • n. Superior skill or ability.
  • n. Superior strength, courage, or daring, especially in battle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Skillfulness and manual ability; adroitness or dexterity.
  • n. Distinguished bravery or courage, especially in battle; heroism

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Distinguished bravery; valor; especially, military bravery and skill; gallantry; intrepidity; fearlessness.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Excellence; virtue; goodness; integrity.
  • n. Bravery; valor; particularly, military bravery combined with skill; gallantry; daring.
  • n. A feat or deed of valor; a valiant act.

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

  • n. a superior skill that you can learn by study and practice and observation


Middle English prowesse, from Old French proesse, from prud, prou, brave; see proud.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French proeche (Modern French: prouesse) (Wiktionary)



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  • sings)
    Yeh, it's sad, believe me, Missy
    When you're born to be a sissy,
    Without the vim and verve.
    But I could show my prowess --
    Be a lion not a mou-ess --
    If I only had the nerve
    I'm afraid there's no denyin'
    I'm just a dande-lion --
    A fate I don't deserve.
    I'd be brave as a blizzard --

    June 11, 2010

  • A curious word this. If one did not know what it meant, one might think it referred to a female "prow", along the lines of authoress, poetess, mayoress, etc. I like that, while it suggests femininity (though I know that the -ess suffix means something else here, along the lines of duress), it refers to skill and expertise.

    September 5, 2008

  • When even sex has ceased to be sensation
    he calls his marriage
    mutual consolation
    and, lying with his wife
    without prowess,
    he calls the appalling sheets
    a wilderness.

    - Peter Reading, Nomenclator, from For the Municipality's Elderly, 1974

    June 22, 2008