• synonyms


  1. the string of an archer's bow.
  2. a string, typically of horsehair, for the bow of an instrument of the violin and viol families.
  3. (especially in the Ottoman Empire) a similar string for killing people by strangulation.
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verb (used with object), bow·stringed or bow·strung, bow·string·ing.
  1. to strangle with a bowstring or any string or band.
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Origin of bowstring

First recorded in 1350–1400, bowstring is from the Middle English word bowe streng. See bow2, string
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bowstring

Historical Examples

  • By the bowstring of my fathers, but that would be a great and worthy killing!

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 147, December 30, 1914


  • Get ye gone, or the bastinado and the bowstring shall be your portion.

  • He must not beat her or strangle her with a bowstring or drop her into the Bosporus.

    In a Little Town

    Rupert Hughes

  • He broke his bowstring, and his hand was numbed at the wrist-joint.

  • As the sound was not repeated, he strode in among the trees, setting an arrow against the bowstring.

    Hawk Eye

    David Cory

British Dictionary definitions for bowstring


  1. the string of an archer's bow, usually consisting of three strands of hemp
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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