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[pol-troon] /pɒlˈtrun/
a wretched coward; craven.
marked by utter cowardice.
Origin of poltroon
1520-30; earlier pultrowne, pultron, poultroone < Middle French poultron < Old Italian poltrone idler, coward, derivative of poltro foal < Vulgar Latin *pulliter, derivative of Latin pullus young animal; see foal
Related forms
poltroonery, noun
poltroonish, adjective
poltroonishly, adverb
1. dastard. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for poltroonery
Historical Examples
  • "poltroonery, I say," he repeated, embracing the whole company in his glance.

    The Tavern Knight Rafael Sabatini
  • How should it possibly, by any stretch of poltroonery and baseness, be otherwise?

    My Contemporaries In Fiction David Christie Murray
  • There is a point where toleration sinks into sheer baseness and poltroonery.

    The Biglow Papers James Russell Lowell
  • Or, in other words, since they must be selfish, let them be so without the poltroonery of selfishness.

    Rhoda Fleming, Complete George Meredith
  • Do you not make use of my poltroonery to hinder me from entering our house?

    Amphitryon Moliere
  • It is the poltroonery of the flesh, and the trepidation of the spirit, that are his worst tormentors.

    Barbara Lynn Emily J. Jenkinson
  • A murmur of disgust at his poltroonery ran through the ranks.

    Lords of the World Alfred John Church
  • Achilles accuses Agamemnon of drunkenness, greed, and poltroonery.

    Homer and His Age Andrew Lang
  • His discretion took on the look of poltroonery and he groveled in shame.

    We Can't Have Everything Rupert Hughes
  • There was the acid of contempt in her voice at her brother's poltroonery.

    A World Apart Samuel Kimball Merwin
British Dictionary definitions for poltroonery


an abject or contemptible coward
a rare word for cowardly
Word Origin
C16: from Old French poultron, from Old Italian poltrone lazy good-for-nothing, apparently from poltrīre to lie indolently in bed, from poltro bed
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 poltroonery



"A coward; a nidgit; a scoundrel" [Johnson, who spells it poltron], 1520s, from Middle French poultron "rascal, coward" (16c., Modern French poltron), from Italian poltrone "lazy fellow, coward," apparently from *poltro "couch, bed" (cf. Milanese polter, Venetian poltrona "couch"), perhaps from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German polstar "pillow;" see bolster (n.)). Cf. also -oon.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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