kowtow

[ kou-tou, -tou, koh- ]
/ ˈkaʊˈtaʊ, -ˌtaʊ, ˈkoʊ- /

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.

Nearby words

  1. kowaiti,
  2. koweit,
  3. kowhai,
  4. kowhaiwhai,
  5. kowloon,
  6. koyukon,
  7. kozani,
  8. kozhikode,
  9. kozlov,
  10. kozlov, frol romanovich

Also kotow.

Origin of kowtow

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

Related formskow·tow·er, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for kowtow


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 Formskowtower, 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

Word Origin and History for kowtow

kowtow

n.

also kow-tow, 1804, from Chinese k'o-t'ou custom of touching the ground with the forehead to show respect or submission, literally "knock the head," from k'o "knock, bump" + t'ou "head." The verb in the figurative sense of "act in an obsequious manner" is from 1826. Related: Kowtowed; kowtowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper