[ krey-vuhn ]
/ ˈkreɪ vən /


cowardly; contemptibly timid; pusillanimous.


a coward.

verb (used with object)

to make cowardly.


    cry craven, to yield; capitulate; give up.

Origin of craven

1175–1225; Middle English cravant, cravaunde defeated < Old French craventé, past participle of cravanter to crush, overwhelm (< Vulgar Latin *crepantāre), influenced by Middle English creaunt defeated (see recreant)

Related forms

cra·ven·ly, adverbcra·ven·ness, nounun·cra·ven, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cravenness

  • She had a fine spirit; it did not know defeat or cravenness.

    Double Harness|Anthony Hope
  • The boy was the bear-hunter in miniature, strong and hearty, and a stranger to all cravenness.

  • They stood ready to obey his slightest wish––not with cravenness, but with quick reversion to the faith of their ancestors.

    The Web of the Golden Spider|Frederick Orin Bartlett
  • It is very frequently set down as pusillanimity and cravenness of spirit.

British Dictionary definitions for cravenness


/ (ˈkreɪvən) /


cowardly; mean-spirited


a coward

Derived Forms

cravenly, adverbcravenness, noun

Word Origin for craven

C13 cravant, probably from Old French crevant bursting, from crever to burst, die, from Latin crepāre to burst, crack
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