[ kuhv-er ]
See synonyms for: covercoveredcoveringcovers on

verb (used with object)
  1. to be or serve as a covering for; extend over; rest on the surface of: Snow covered the fields.

  2. to place something over or upon, as for protection, concealment, or warmth.

  1. to provide with a covering or top: Cover the pot with a lid.

  2. to protect or conceal (the body, head, etc.) with clothes, a hat, etc; wrap.

  3. to bring upon (oneself): He covered himself with glory by his exploits.

  4. to hide from view; screen.

  5. to spread on or over; apply to: to cover bread with honey.

  6. to put all over the surface of: to cover a wall with paint.

  7. to include, deal with, or provide for; address: The rules cover working conditions.

  8. to suffice to defray or meet (a charge, expense, etc.): Ten dollars should cover the cost of a taxi.

  9. to offset (an outlay, loss, liability, etc.).

  10. to achieve in distance traversed; pass or travel over: We covered 600 miles a day on our trip.

  11. Journalism.

    • to act as a reporter or reviewer of (an event, a field of interest, a performance, etc.); have as an assignment: She covers sports for the paper.

    • to publish or broadcast a report or reports of (a news item, a series of related events, etc.): The press covered the trial in great detail.

  12. to pass or rise over and surmount or envelop: The river covered the town during the flood.

  13. Insurance. to insure against risk or loss.

  14. to serve as a defense for; shelter; protect.

  15. Military.

    • to be in line with by occupying a position directly before or behind.

    • to protect (a soldier, force, or military position) during an expected period of ground combat by taking a position from which any hostile troops can be fired upon.

  16. to take temporary charge of or responsibility for in place of another: Please cover my phone while I'm out to lunch.

  17. to extend over; encompass: The book covers 18th-century England.

  18. to be assigned to or responsible for, as a territory or field of endeavor: We have two sales representatives covering the Southwest.

  19. to aim at, as with a pistol.

  20. to have within range, as a fortress does adjacent territory.

  21. to play a card higher than (the one led or previously played in the round).

  22. to deposit the equivalent of (money deposited), as in wagering.

  23. to accept the conditions of (a bet, wager, etc.).

  24. Finance. (in short selling) to purchase securities or commodities in order to deliver them to the broker from whom they were borrowed.

  25. Baseball. to take a position close to or at (a base) so as to catch a ball thrown to the base: The shortstop covered second on the attempted steal.

  26. Music.

    • to perform or record (a cover version of a song): The band has covered more than ten Bob Dylan songs in concert.

    • to perform or record a cover version of a song by (another singer, instrumentalist, or group): Many singers have covered Whitney Houston.

  27. Sports. to guard (an opponent on offense) so as to prevent them from scoring or carrying out their assignment: They tried to to cover a potential pass receiver.

  28. (especially of a male animal) to copulate with.

  29. (of a hen) to brood or sit on (eggs or chicks).

verb (used without object)
  1. Informal. to serve as a substitute for someone who is absent: We cover for the receptionist during lunch hour.

  2. to hide the wrongful or embarrassing action of another by providing an alibi or acting in the other's place: They covered for him when he missed roll call.

  1. to play a card higher than the one led or previously played in the round: She led the eight and I covered with the jack.

  2. to spread over an area or surface, especially for the purpose of obscuring an existing covering or of achieving a desired thickness and evenness: This paint is much too thin to cover.

  1. something that goes on top of or surrounds, such as the lid of a container or the binding of a book.

  2. a blanket, quilt, or the like: Put another cover on the bed.

  1. anything that veils, screens, or shuts from sight: under cover of darkness.

  2. woods, underbrush, etc., serving to shelter and conceal wild animals or game; a covert.

  3. Ecology. vegetation that serves to protect or conceal animals, such as birds, from excessive sunlight, from drying, or from predators.

  4. a set of eating utensils and the like, as plate, knife, fork, and napkin, placed for each person at a table.

  5. an assumed identity, occupation, or business that masks the true or real one: His job at the embassy was a cover for his work as a spy.

  6. a coating of snow, especially when suitable for skiing.

  7. a pretense; feigning.

  8. a person who substitutes for another or stands ready to substitute if needed: She was hired as a cover for six roles at the opera house.

  9. Philately.

    • an envelope or outer wrapping for mail.

    • a letter folded so that the address may be placed on the outside and the missive mailed.

  10. Finance. funds to cover liability or secure against risk of loss.

  11. Music. cover version.

  12. Also called covering .Mathematics. a collection of sets having the property that a given set is contained in the union of the sets in the collection.

Verb Phrases
  1. cover up,

    • to lay over or wrap around; enfold.

    • to keep secret; conceal: She tried to cover up her part in the plot.

Idioms about cover

  1. blow one's cover, to divulge one's secret identity, especially inadvertently: The TV news story blew his carefully fabricated cover.

  2. break cover, to emerge, especially suddenly, from a place of concealment: The fox broke cover and the chase was on.

  1. cover one's / someone's ass, Slang: Vulgar. to take measures that will prevent oneself or another person from suffering blame, loss, harm, etc.

  2. (from) cover to cover, from beginning to end (of a book or other printed publication):I don’t usually read magazines cover to cover.

  3. take cover, to seek shelter or safety: The hikers took cover in a deserted cabin to escape the sudden storm.

  4. under cover, clandestinely; secretly: Arrangements for the escape were made under cover.

  5. under separate cover, in a separate envelope: The report will be mailed to you under separate cover.

Origin of cover

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English coveren, coueren, coouer, from Old French covrir, couvrir, cuvrir, from Latin cooperīre “to cover completely,” equivalent to co-, an intensive prefix + operīre “to shut, close, cover”; see origin at co-, aperient

synonym study For cover

38, 39. Cover, protection, screen, shelter mean a defense against harm or danger and a provision for safety. The main idea in cover is that of concealment, as in darkness, in a wood, or behind something: The ground troops were left without cover when the air force was withdrawn. Screen refers especially to something behind which one can hide: A well-aimed artillery fire formed a screen for ground operations. Protection and shelter emphasize the idea of a guard or defense, a shield against injury or death. A protection is any such shield: In World War II, an air cover of airplanes served as a protection for troops. A shelter is something that covers over and acts as a place of refuge: An abandoned monastery acted as a shelter.

Other words for cover

Other words from cover

  • cov·er·a·ble, adjective
  • cov·er·er, noun
  • cov·er·less, adjective
  • half-cov·ered, adjective
  • pre·cov·er, verb (used with object)
  • well-cov·ered, adjective

Words Nearby cover Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use cover in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cover


/ (ˈkʌvə) /

verb(mainly tr)
  1. to place or spread something over so as to protect or conceal

  2. to provide with a covering; clothe

  1. to put a garment, esp a hat, on (the body or head)

  2. to extend over or lie thickly on the surface of; spread: snow covered the fields

  3. to bring upon (oneself); invest (oneself) as if with a covering: covered with shame

  4. (sometimes foll by up) to act as a screen or concealment for; hide from view

  5. military to protect (an individual, formation, or place) by taking up a position from which fire may be returned if those being protected are fired upon

  6. (also intr, often foll by for) to assume responsibility for (a person or thing): to cover for a colleague in his absence

  7. (intr; foll by for or up for) to provide an alibi (for)

  8. to have as one's territory: this salesman covers your area

  9. to travel over: to cover three miles a day

  10. (tr) to have or place in the aim and within the range of (a firearm)

  11. to include or deal with: his talk covered all aspects of the subject

  12. (of an asset or income) to be sufficient to meet (a liability or expense)

    • to insure against loss, risk, etc

    • to provide for (loss, risk, etc) by insurance

  13. (also intr) finance to purchase (securities, etc) in order to meet contracts, esp short sales

  14. to deposit (an equivalent stake) in a bet or wager

  15. (also intr) to play a card higher in rank than (one played beforehand by another player)

  16. to act as reporter or photographer on (a news event, etc) for a newspaper or magazine: to cover sports events

  17. sport to guard or protect (an opponent, team-mate, or area)

  18. music to record a cover version of

  19. (of a male animal, esp a horse) to copulate with (a female animal)

  20. (of a bird) to brood (eggs)

  1. anything that covers, spreads over, protects, or conceals

  2. woods or bushes providing shelter or a habitat for wild creatures

    • a blanket used on a bed for warmth

    • another word for bedspread

  1. finance liquid assets, reserves, or guaranteed income sufficient to discharge a liability, meet an expenditure, etc

  2. a pretext, disguise, or false identity: the thief sold brushes as a cover

  3. insurance another word for coverage (def. 3)

  4. an envelope or package for sending through the post: under plain cover

  5. philately

    • an entire envelope that has been postmarked

    • on cover (of a postage stamp) kept in this form by collectors

  6. an individual table setting, esp in a restaurant

  7. sport the guarding or protection of an opponent, team-mate, or area

  8. Also called: cover version a version by a different artist of a previously recorded musical item

  9. cricket

    • (often plural) the area more or less at right angles to the pitch on the off side and usually about halfway to the boundary: to field in the covers

    • (as modifier): a cover drive by a batsman

    • Also called: cover point a fielder in such a position

  10. ecology the percentage of the ground surface covered by a given species of plant

  11. break cover (esp of game animals) to come out from a shelter or hiding place

  12. take cover to make for a place of safety or shelter

  13. under cover protected, concealed, or in secret: under cover of night

Origin of cover

C13: from Old French covrir, from Latin cooperīre to cover completely, from operīre to cover over

Derived forms of cover

  • coverable, adjective
  • coverer, noun
  • coverless, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with cover


In addition to the idioms beginning with cover

  • cover for
  • cover girl
  • cover ground
  • cover one's ass
  • cover one's tracks
  • cover story
  • cover the field
  • cover up

also see:

  • blow one's cover
  • break cover
  • judge a book by its cover
  • (cover a) multitude of sins
  • take cover
  • under cover

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.