verb (used without object)

to crouch, as in fear or shame.

Origin of cower

1250–1300; Middle English couren; cognate with Norwegian, Swedish kūra, Middle Low German kūren, German kauern
Related formscow·er·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for cower Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cowering

Contemporary Examples of cowering

Historical Examples of cowering

  • "Put him out," said Katrina, with a glance of disdain at the cowering man.

  • They would be cowering there, probably in darkness, not knowing what was going on.

    In the Orbit of Saturn

    Roman Frederick Starzl

  • He was gesticulating wildly, and Rathburn could see that the girl was cowering.

    The Coyote

    James Roberts

  • Clinton's paroxysm was over, and sinking to the floor he lay there shivering and cowering.

  • The woman, cowering against the door, covered her ears, and groaned.

    In Kings' Byways

    Stanley J. Weyman

British Dictionary definitions for cowering



(intr) to crouch or cringe, as in fear

Word Origin for cower

C13: from Middle Low German kūren to lie in wait; related to Swedish kura to lie in wait, Danish kure to squat
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 cowering



c.1300, probably from Middle Low German *kuren "lie in wait" (Modern German kauern), or similar Scandinavian words meaning "to squat" and "to doze" (e.g. Old Norse kura, Danish, Norwegian kure, Swedish kura). Thus unrelated to coward. Related: Cowered; cowering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper