• Coward

    Pronunciation

    • UK IPA: /ˈkaʊəd/
    • US IPA: /ˈkaʊɚd/
    • Hyphenation: co + ward
    • Homophones: cowered

    Origin

    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.

    Full definition of coward

    Noun

    coward

    (plural cowards)
    1. A person who lacks courage.
      • 1856: Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, Part II Chapter IV, translated by Eleanor Marx-AvelingHe tortured himself to find out how he could make his declaration to her, and always halting between the fear of displeasing her and the shame of being such a coward, he wept with discouragement and desire. Then he took energetic resolutions, wrote letters that he tore up, put it off to times that he again deferred.

    Synonyms

    Derived terms

    Adjective

    coward

    1. Cowardly.
      • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, II.17:It is a coward and servile humour, for a man to disguise and hide himselfe under a maske, and not dare to shew himselfe as he is.
      • ShakespeareHe raised the house with loud and coward cries.
      • PriorInvading fears repel my coward joy.
    2. (heraldry, of a lion) Borne in the escutcheon with his tail doubled between his legs.
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