• Coward


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


    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



    (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.


    Derived terms



    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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