[ kou-erd-lee ]
See synonyms for: cowardlycowardliness on

  1. lacking courage; contemptibly timid.

  2. characteristic of or befitting a coward; despicably mean, covert, or unprincipled: a cowardly attack on a weak, defenseless man.

  1. like a coward.

Origin of cowardly

First recorded in 1325–75 for def. 3, and in 1550–60 for def. 1; Middle English adverb couardli, couarli, couherdeli, is derivative of the adjective couard coward + -ly

synonym study For cowardly

1. Cowardly, timid, timorous refer to a lack of courage or self-confidence. Cowardly means weakly or basely fearful in the presence of danger: The cowardly wretch deserted his comrades in battle. Timid means lacking in boldness or self-confidence even when there is no danger present: a timid person who stood in the way of his own advancement. Timorous suggests a timidity based on an exaggeration of dangers or on an imaginary creation of dangers: timorous as a mouse.

Other words for cowardly

Opposites for cowardly

Other words from cowardly

  • cow·ard·li·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use cowardly in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cowardly


/ (ˈkaʊədlɪ) /

  1. of or characteristic of a coward; lacking courage

Derived forms of cowardly

  • cowardliness, noun

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