View synonyms for cowardly


[ kou-erd-lee ]


  1. lacking courage; contemptibly timid.

    Synonyms: chicken-hearted, lily-livered, white-livered, fainthearted, pusillanimous, dastardly, poltroon, craven, scared, afraid, fearful

    Antonyms: brave

  2. characteristic of or befitting a coward; despicably mean, covert, or unprincipled:

    a cowardly attack on a weak, defenseless man.


  1. like a coward.


/ ˈkaʊədlɪ /


  1. of or characteristic of a coward; lacking courage

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Derived Forms

  • ˈcowardliness, noun

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Other Words From

  • coward·li·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of cowardly1

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

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

McCarthy’s counterpart in the Senate has been only slightly less cowardly.

Even without a conviction the trial is a warning to anyone occupying high office in the future acts of high crimes and misdemeanors will not be glossed over because some are too cowardly to act.

Kayleigh McEnany’s cowardly exitPolitico’s revolt over Ben Shapiro guest-hosting Playbook went too far

A question I’ve been asking is whether these Republicans in Congress really believe what they’re saying, or whether they’re too cowardly or self-interested to do what’s right because they fear the political consequences.

From Vox

In Ghost of Tsushima, these tactics are considered cowardly, spineless, and dishonorable.

From Time

“It was cowardly, the way Chris and Guy went about this,” Ioffe said.

For them, the cowardly cynicism of the status quo will do just fine.

According to the historian John Saunders, he was a “weak, vain, incompetent and cowardly” leader.

Trying to put the onus onto someone else for your own decisions is really cowardly and kind of dishonest.

Nothing could be more cowardly than to gun down three unarmed innocents, including a 14-year-old boy.

If it were not for the cowardly fear of being thought timid, there would be more care used in such matters.

But when he saw there were but two of them he mentally cursed the four escorts who had so cowardly left him to his fate.

Isn't this free-booting spirit, now, better than leading a cowardly life of musty regularity?

None would have believed that the cowardly monster Fear was for ever feasting upon his heart.

But, there is a beardless youth, follow'd by a cowardly serving man, who presses hard to see you.


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