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[kou-er] /ˈkaʊ ər/
verb (used without object)
to crouch, as in fear or shame.
Origin of cower
1250-1300; Middle English couren; cognate with Norwegian, Swedish kūra, Middle Low German kūren, German kauern
Related forms
coweringly, adverb
cringe, recoil, flinch, quail. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cower
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The result was a sharp peck on the end of his nose that made him cower down and ki-yi.

    White Fang Jack London
  • Just then a shot was fired in the kitchen, which made us jump and cower as if at a thunder-clap.

  • She did not cower back and demand that the oracle be served up to her by a messenger.

  • This is proud oppression's hour; Storms are round us; shall we cower?

    The Liberty Minstrel George W. Clark
  • Gray Wolf did not cower, nor did his staunch heart fail him.

British Dictionary definitions for cower


(intransitive) to crouch or cringe, as in fear
Word Origin
C13: from Middle Low German kūren to lie in wait; related to Swedish kura to lie in wait, Danish kure to squat
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 cower

c.1300, probably from Middle Low German *kuren "lie in wait" (Modern German kauern), or similar Scandinavian words meaning "to squat" and "to doze" (e.g. Old Norse kura, Danish, Norwegian kure, Swedish kura). Thus unrelated to coward. Related: Cowered; cowering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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