something laid over or wrapped around a thing, especially for concealment, protection, or warmth.
Mathematics. cover(def 50).
the buying of securities or commodities that one has sold short, in order to return them to the person from whom they were borrowed.

Nearby words

  1. coverdale, miles,
  2. covered,
  3. covered bridge,
  4. covered wagon,
  5. covered-dish supper,
  6. covering fire,
  7. covering letter,
  8. covering power,
  9. coverlet,
  10. coverley

Origin of covering

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at cover, -ing1



verb (used with object)

to be or serve as a covering for; extend over; rest on the surface of: Snow covered the fields.
to place something over or upon, as for protection, concealment, or warmth.
to provide with a covering or top: Cover the pot with a lid.
to protect or conceal (the body, head, etc.) with clothes, a hat, etc; wrap.
to bring upon (oneself): He covered himself with glory by his exploits.
to hide from view; screen.
to spread on or over; apply to: to cover bread with honey.
to put all over the surface of: to cover a wall with paint.
to include, deal with, or provide for; address: The rules cover working conditions.
to suffice to defray or meet (a charge, expense, etc.): Ten dollars should cover my expenses.
to offset (an outlay, loss, liability, etc.).
to achieve in distance traversed; pass or travel over: We covered 600 miles a day on our trip.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
to pass or rise over and surmount or envelop: The river covered the town during the flood.
Insurance. to insure against risk or loss.
to shelter; protect; serve as a defense for.
  1. to be in line with by occupying a position directly before or behind.
  2. 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.
to take temporary charge of or responsibility for in place of another: Please cover my phone while I'm out to lunch.
to extend over; comprise: The book covers 18th-century England.
to be assigned to or responsible for, as a territory or field of endeavor: We have two sales representatives covering the Southwest.
to aim at, as with a pistol.
to have within range, as a fortress does adjacent territory.
to play a card higher than (the one led or previously played in the round).
to deposit the equivalent of (money deposited), as in wagering.
to accept the conditions of (a bet, wager, etc.).
(in short selling) to purchase securities or commodities in order to deliver them to the broker from whom they were borrowed.
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.
Sports. to guard (an opponent on offense) so as to prevent him or her from scoring or carrying out his or her assignment: to cover a potential pass receiver.
(especially of a male animal) to copulate with.
(of a hen) to brood or sit on (eggs or chicks).

verb (used without object)

Informal. to serve as a substitute for someone who is absent: We cover for the receptionist during lunch hour.
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.
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.
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.


something that covers, as the lid of a container or the binding of a book.
a blanket, quilt, or the like: Put another cover on the bed.
protection; shelter; concealment.
anything that veils, screens, or shuts from sight: under cover of darkness.
woods, underbrush, etc., serving to shelter and conceal wild animals or game; a covert.
Ecology. vegetation that serves to protect or conceal animals, such as birds, from excessive sunlight, from drying, or from predators.
a set of eating utensils and the like, as plate, knife, fork, and napkin, placed for each person at a table.
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.
a covering of snow, especially when suitable for skiing.
a pretense; feigning.
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.
  1. an envelope or outer wrapping for mail.
  2. a letter folded so that the address may be placed on the outside and the missive mailed.
Finance. funds to cover liability or secure against risk of loss.
Music. cover version.
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

cover up,
  1. to cover completely; enfold.
  2. to keep secret; conceal: She tried to cover up her part in the plot.

Origin of cover

1200–50; Middle English coveren < Old French covrir < Latin cooperīre to cover completely, equivalent to co- co- + operīre to shut, close, cover (op-, apparently for ob- ob- + -erīre; see aperient)

Related forms

Synonym study

37, 38. 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 artillary 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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for covering

British Dictionary definitions for covering



another word for cover (def. 24)


verb (mainly tr)

to place or spread something over so as to protect or conceal
to provide with a covering; clothe
to put a garment, esp a hat, on (the body or head)
to extend over or lie thickly on the surface of; spreadsnow covered the fields
to bring upon (oneself); invest (oneself) as if with a coveringcovered with shame
(sometimes foll by up) to act as a screen or concealment for; hide from view
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
(also intr, often foll by for) to assume responsibility for (a person or thing)to cover for a colleague in his absence
(intr; foll by for or up for) to provide an alibi (for)
to have as one's territorythis salesman covers your area
to travel overto cover three miles a day
(tr) to have or place in the aim and within the range of (a firearm)
to include or deal withhis talk covered all aspects of the subject
(of an asset or income) to be sufficient to meet (a liability or expense)
  1. to insure against loss, risk, etc
  2. to provide for (loss, risk, etc) by insurance
(also intr) finance to purchase (securities, etc) in order to meet contracts, esp short sales
to deposit (an equivalent stake) in a bet or wager
(also intr) to play a card higher in rank than (one played beforehand by another player)
to act as reporter or photographer on (a news event, etc) for a newspaper or magazineto cover sports events
sport to guard or protect (an opponent, team-mate, or area)
music to record a cover version of
(of a male animal, esp a horse) to copulate with (a female animal)
(of a bird) to brood (eggs)


anything that covers, spreads over, protects, or conceals
woods or bushes providing shelter or a habitat for wild creatures
  1. a blanket used on a bed for warmth
  2. another word for bedspread
finance liquid assets, reserves, or guaranteed income sufficient to discharge a liability, meet an expenditure, etc
a pretext, disguise, or false identitythe thief sold brushes as a cover
insurance another word for coverage (def. 3)
an envelope or package for sending through the postunder plain cover
  1. an entire envelope that has been postmarked
  2. on cover(of a postage stamp) kept in this form by collectors
an individual table setting, esp in a restaurant
sport the guarding or protection of an opponent, team-mate, or area
Also called: cover version a version by a different artist of a previously recorded musical item
  1. (often plural)the area more or less at right angles to the pitch on the off side and usually about halfway to the boundaryto field in the covers
  2. (as modifier)a cover drive by a batsman
  3. Also called: cover pointa fielder in such a position
ecology the percentage of the ground surface covered by a given species of plant
break cover (esp of game animals) to come out from a shelter or hiding place
take cover to make for a place of safety or shelter
under cover protected, concealed, or in secretunder cover of night
See also cover-up

Derived Formscoverable, adjectivecoverer, nouncoverless, adjective

Word Origin for cover

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

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

Word Origin and History for covering
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with covering


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.