- a person who lacks courage in facing danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc.; a timid or easily intimidated person.
- lacking courage; very fearful or timid.
- proceeding from or expressive of fear or timidity: a coward cry.
Origin of coward
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- Noel,1899–1973, English playwright, author, actor, and composer.
Examples from the Web for coward
Hill advised him not to, saying that if he did so, the cadets would regard him as a coward.Stonewall Jackson, VMI’s Most Embattled Professor
S. C. Gwynne
November 29, 2014
And cancer, deceiver, pretender, coward; it cannot even subsist without the vibrant people it depends on.No One Ever Loses to Cancer
October 8, 2014
Or he could have been a coward, lashing out at me for some online slight.How I (Digitally) Killed My Twitter Impostor
July 21, 2014
He was ultimately a coward, and he took no pleasure in his victims fighting back.A Serial Killer on the Loose in Nazi Berlin
Scott Andrew Selby
January 11, 2014
Rather, he was “a coward” who would pick fights only “when he knew he was well covered by the busboys.”Go Fuck Yourself
July 18, 2013
At any rate, I won't be coward enough to try to hide it from her.Brave and Bold
If the first thing happened, you'd have been a coward the rest of your life.Way of the Lawless
The coward would not have the courage to contradict her, but he would know if he were lying!
"Because I was a coward," answered Corney, speaking the truth with courage.
And yet it was a coward's blow, and one to stir the blood and loose the tongue of the most peaceful.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
- a person who shrinks from or avoids danger, pain, or difficulty
- Sir Noël (Pierce). 1899–1973, English dramatist, actor, and composer, noted for his sophisticated comedies, which include Private Lives (1930) and Blithe Spirit (1941)
Word Origin and History for coward
mid-13c., from Old French coart "coward" (no longer the usual word in French, which has now in this sense poltron, from Italian, and lâche), from coe "tail," from Latin coda, popular dialect variant of cauda "tail," of uncertain origin + -ard, an agent noun suffix denoting one that carries on some action or possesses some quality, with derogatory connotation (see -ard).
The word probably reflects an animal metaphoric sense still found in expressions like turning tail and tail between legs. Coart was the name of the hare in Old French versions of "Reynard the Fox." Italian codardo, Spanish cobarde are from French.
The identification of coward & bully has gone so far in the popular consciousness that persons & acts in which no trace of fear is to be found are often called coward(ly) merely because advantage has been taken of superior strength or position .... [Fowler]
As a surname (attested from 1255) it represents Old English cuhyrde "cow-herd." Farmer has coward's castle "a pulpit," "Because a clergyman may deliver himself therefrom without fear of contradiction or argument."