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Origin of prow

1545–55; < Middle French proue < Upper Italian (Genoese) prua < Latin prōra < Greek prôira
Related formsprowed, adjective


adjective Archaic.
  1. valiant.

Origin of prow

1350–1400; Middle English < Old French prou < Vulgar Latin *prōdis. See proud Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for prow

head, fore, stem, bowsprit

Examples from the Web for prow

Contemporary Examples of prow

  • "It's not heavy and resembles the prow of a ship," Zanotti told The Daily Beast in an email.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Killer Heels!

    Isabel Wilkinson

    October 18, 2010

Historical Examples of prow

  • Into the first of them she ran the boat until its prow touched the sandy bottom.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • She looked at him as he stood with his hand on the prow of the boat.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • As the prow drove forward down-stream, exultation entered into him.

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson

  • But there were reserves in the prow, and these were drawn upon to fill the empty places.

    The Sea-Hawk

    Raphael Sabatini

  • It seemed as if something had gone awry with the prow of their ship.

    Mixed Faces

    Roy Norton

British Dictionary definitions for prow


  1. the bow of a vessel

Word Origin for prow

C16: from Old French proue, from Latin prora, from Greek prōra; related to Latin pro in front
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 prow

"forepart of a ship," 1550s, from Middle French proue, from Italian (Genoese) prua, from Vulgar Latin *proda, by dissimilation from Latin prora "prow," from Greek proira, related to pro "before, forward," proi "early in the morning," from PIE *pre-, from root *per- (1) "forward, through" (see per).

Middle English and early Modern English (and Scott) had prore in same sense, from Latin. Modern Italian has proda only in sense "shore, bank." Prow and poop meant "the whole ship," hence 16c.-17c. figurative use of the expression for "the whole" (of anything).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper