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90s Slang You Should Know


[kou-erd] /ˈkaʊ ərd/
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
1175-1225; Middle English < Old French couard-, couart cowardly, equivalent to coue tail (< Latin cauda) + -art -ard
1. craven, poltroon, dastard, recreant, milksop.


[kou-erd] /ˈkaʊ ərd/
Noel, 1899–1973, English playwright, author, actor, and composer. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for coward
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Dinghal was not the most robust of men, but he was no coward.

    The Tigress Anne Warner
  • But the stolid sergeant was apparently too much of a coward to take the risk.

    A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair
  • But I was sore afraid, for I feared to mate with a coward—I, who had been a warrior-maiden from my birth.

    Told by the Northmen: E. M. [Ethel Mary] Wilmot-Buxton
  • If Smaltz had been the villain of fiction, he would have been a coward as well.

    The Man from the Bitter Roots Caroline Lockhart
  • He might have been frightened at the time, and not known what he was doing, but he is not a coward.

    Anting-Anting Stories Sargent Kayme
British Dictionary definitions for coward


a person who shrinks from or avoids danger, pain, or difficulty
Word Origin
C13: from Old French cuard, from coue tail, from Latin cauda; perhaps suggestive of a frightened animal with its tail between its legs


Sir Noël (Pierce). 1899–1973, English dramatist, actor, and composer, noted for his sophisticated comedies, which include Private Lives (1930) and Blithe Spirit (1941)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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