Definitions

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

  • adjective Unfaithful or disloyal to a belief, duty, or cause.
  • adjective Archaic Craven or cowardly.
  • noun A faithless or disloyal person.
  • noun Archaic A coward.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Ready to yield in fight; acknowledging defeat; hence, craven; cowardly. Compare craven.
  • Unfaithful to duty; betraying trust.
  • noun One who yields in combat and cries craven; one who begs for mercy; hence, a meanspirited, cowardly, or unfaithful wretch.

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

  • adjective Crying for mercy, as a combatant in the trial by battle; yielding; cowardly; mean-spirited; craven.
  • adjective Apostate; false; unfaithful.
  • noun One who yields in combat, and begs for mercy; a mean-spirited, cowardly wretch.

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

  • adjective disloyal, unfaithful, surrendering allegiance.
  • adjective cowardly, craven
  • noun Somebody who is recreant. A person who yields in combat, or is cowardly and faint-hearted.

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

  • noun an abject coward
  • noun a disloyal person who betrays or deserts his cause or religion or political party or friend etc.
  • adjective having deserted a cause or principle
  • adjective lacking even the rudiments of courage; abjectly fearful

Etymologies

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

[Middle English recreaunt, defeated, from Old French recreant, present participle of recroire, to yield in a trial by combat, surrender allegiance, from Medieval Latin recrēdere, to yield, pledge : Latin re-, re- + Latin crēdere, to believe; see kerd- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French recreant 'yielding, giving', from the verb recroire "to yield in a trial by combat, surrender allegiance", itself from re- 'again, back' + croire 'to entrust, believe' (from Latin credere). In use in English as an adjective, meaning "confessing oneself to be overcome or vanquished," since the 14th century, the usage as a noun for a coward or faint-hearted was first recorded from the 15th century. The modern sense of "unfaithful to duty" is modern, first attested in 1643 (OED).

Examples

Comments

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  • "We must find

    An evident calamity, though we had

    Our wish, which side should win; for either thou

    Must, as a foreign recreant, be led

    With manacles through our streets, or else

    Triumphantly tread on thy country's ruin..."

    - William Shakespeare, 'The Tragedy of Coriolanus'.

    August 29, 2009

  • LEAR

    Hear me, recreant, on thine allegiance, hear me;

    Since thou hast sought to make us break our vow,

    Which we durst never yet, and with strained pride

    To come between our sentence and our power,

    Which nor our nature nor our place can bear,

    Our potency made good, take thy reward.

    - King Lear

    September 29, 2009

  • Not many English words end in -creant.... e.g. miscreant - any others to suggest or list?

    September 29, 2009