[ boh-leg ]


, Pathology.
  1. outward curvature of the legs causing a separation of the knees when the ankles are close or in contact.
  2. a leg so curved.

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Other Words From

  • bow·leg·ged [boh, -leg-id, boh, -legd], adjective
  • bow·leg·ged·ness [boh, -leg-id-nis], noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of bowleg1

First recorded in 1545–55; bow 2 + leg


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About This Word

What does bowleg mean?

Bowleg is a condition in which the legs curve outward, causing the knees to point outward.

Bowleg can also refer to a leg affected in this way.

The word bow in the term is a reference to the type of curve seen in a bow—the kind used to shoot arrows.

The condition can also be called bow legs or bandy legs. Someone with this condition can be described as bowlegged (or bowlegged). The condition of having bowleg can also be called bowleggedness.

Many young children appear to have bowleg, but in most cases their legs straighten as they continue to grow. However, in some cases, abnormal bowing of the legs may be caused by diseases like rickets or Blount’s disease.

Bowleggedness is associated with cowboys, probably due to the idea that the condition can be the result of spending too much time straddling a saddle. However, frequent horseback riding is unlikely to cause bowleg.

Example: I had bowleg when I was a young child, but my legs straightened out by the time I was four or so.

Where does bowleg come from?

The terms bowleg, bow legs, and bowlegged have been used since at least the mid-1500s.

Many children appear to have bowleg as their legs are developing, but in most cases it does not require treatment. Bowleg isn’t the only condition that involves an abnormal curving of the legs. In the condition known as knock-knee, the legs are curved inward (resulting in knees that can knock together when walking).

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What are some other forms related to bowleg?

  • bowlegged (adjective)

What are some synonyms for bowleg?

What are some words that share a root or word element with bowleg

What are some words that often get used in discussing bowleg?

How is bowleg used in real life?

The term bowleg is typically reserved for the medical discussion of such conditions. In everyday conversation, it’s much more common to describe someone as bowlegged than as having bowleg. However, describing someone this way may be rude or insensitive.









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