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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for cowered
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Deeper and deeper it grew till the Gods in heaven grew afraid and cowered in the highest corner of heaven.

  • She cowered under the bedclothes, she told me, expecting him to strike her.

    Robert Elsmere Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • The nervous father clenched the railing in a daze, and cowered before the ministerial heckling.

    Auld Licht Idylls J. M. Barrie
  • Again I cowered behind the crowd, and her glance was carried onward.

    The Quadroon Mayne Reid
  • And forthwith he drew the blade from his girdle and sprang forward at Birdalone; and she cowered and cringed, but moved not else.

  • Ormsby had cowered back to the opposite wall, covering his face.

    The Talking Horse F. Anstey
  • Grey Beaver clouted White Fang alongside the head, so that he cowered down close to the earth in respectful obedience.

    White Fang Jack London
  • For a few moments she cowered in the shadow, and then looked anxiously about.

  • He cowered miserably before the Happy Family, his face hidden behind his two hands.

    Flying U Ranch B. M. Bower
British Dictionary definitions for cowered


(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 cowered



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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