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kowtow

[ kou-tou, -tou, koh- ]
/ ˈkaʊˈtaʊ, -ˌtaʊ, ˈkoʊ- /
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See synonyms for: kowtow / kowtowing / kowtower on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object)
to act in an obsequious manner; show servile deference.
to touch the forehead to the ground while kneeling, as an act of worship, reverence, apology, etc., especially in former Chinese custom.
noun
the act of kowtowing.
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Sometimes ko·tow [koh-tou, -tou] /ˈkoʊˈtaʊ, -ˌtaʊ/ .

Origin of kowtow

First recorded in 1795–1805, kowtow is from the Chinese word kòutóu, literally, “knock (one's) head”

OTHER WORDS FROM kowtow

kowtower, noun

Words nearby kowtow

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use kowtow in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for kowtow

kowtow
/ (ˌkaʊˈtaʊ) /

verb (intr)
to touch the forehead to the ground as a sign of deference: a former Chinese custom
(often foll by to) to be servile or obsequious (towards)
noun
the act of kowtowing

Derived forms of kowtow

kowtower, noun

Word Origin for kowtow

C19: from Chinese k'o t'ou, from k'o to strike, knock + t'ou head
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
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