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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 cowering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Put him out," said Katrina, with a glance of disdain at the cowering man.

    City of Endless Night Milo Hastings
  • They would be cowering there, probably in darkness, not knowing what was going on.

    In the Orbit of Saturn Roman Frederick Starzl
  • He was gesticulating wildly, and Rathburn could see that the girl was cowering.

    The Coyote James Roberts
  • Clinton's paroxysm was over, and sinking to the floor he lay there shivering and cowering.

    A Master of Mysteries L. T. Meade
  • The woman, cowering against the door, covered her ears, and groaned.

    In Kings' Byways Stanley J. Weyman
British Dictionary definitions for cowering


(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 cowering



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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