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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cower
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • True, Joseph's death might well have done all this; but she knew Urbain, and he was not the man to cower under the inevitable.

    Angelot Eleanor Price
  • The result was a sharp peck on the end of his nose that made him cower down and ki-yi.

    White Fang Jack London
  • To cover over the coals is the same as to cower over the coals, as a gipsy over a fire.

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

  • You must cower before the wedding ring like the rest of us, Ramsden.

    Man And Superman George Bernard Shaw
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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