a wretched coward; craven.


marked by utter cowardice.

Origin of poltroon

1520–30; earlier pultrowne, pultron, poultroone < Middle French poultron < Old Italian poltrone idler, coward, derivative of poltro foal < Vulgar Latin *pulliter, derivative of Latin pullus young animal; see foal
Related formspol·troon·er·y, nounpol·troon·ish, adjectivepol·troon·ish·ly, adverb

Synonyms for poltroon

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

Related Words for poltroon

milksop, varlet, dastard, coward, craven, weakling, yellowbelly

Examples from the Web for poltroon

Historical Examples of poltroon

British Dictionary definitions for poltroon



an abject or contemptible coward


a rare word for cowardly

Word Origin for poltroon

C16: from Old French poultron, from Old Italian poltrone lazy good-for-nothing, apparently from poltrīre to lie indolently in bed, from poltro bed
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 poltroon

"A coward; a nidgit; a scoundrel" [Johnson, who spells it poltron], 1520s, from Middle French poultron "rascal, coward" (16c., Modern French poltron), from Italian poltrone "lazy fellow, coward," apparently from *poltro "couch, bed" (cf. Milanese polter, Venetian poltrona "couch"), perhaps from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German polstar "pillow;" see bolster (n.)). Cf. also -oon.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper