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See more synonyms for recreant on Thesaurus.com
  1. cowardly or craven.
  2. unfaithful, disloyal, or traitorous.
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  1. a coward.
  2. an apostate, traitor, or renegade.
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Origin of recreant

1300–50; Middle English < Old French, adj. and noun use of present participle of recreire to yield in a contest, equivalent to re- re- + creire < Latin crēdere to believe
Related formsrec·re·ance, rec·re·an·cy, nounrec·re·ant·ly, adverbun·rec·re·ant, adjective

Synonyms for recreant

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Antonyms for recreant

1. brave. 2. loyal. 3. hero.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for recreancy

Historical Examples of recreancy

  • Not to cherish these feelings would be recreancy to principle.

    No Compromise with Slavery

    William Lloyd Garrison

  • Amidst the poignancy of her regrets, her shame for her recreancy was sharper still.

    Annie Kilburn

    William Dean Howells

  • His opposition, and their own recreancy of principle, tended rapidly to their overthrow.

    The Felon's Track

    Michael Doheny

  • To hint to them that Davis would succeed was not only recreancy to freedom, but blasphemy against God.

  • If I am stopped at my first recreancy and turned directly the contrary way, I think I have courage.'

British Dictionary definitions for recreancy


  1. cowardly; faint-hearted
  2. disloyal
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  1. a disloyal or cowardly person
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Derived Formsrecreance or recreancy, nounrecreantly, adverb

Word Origin for recreant

C14: from Old French, from recroire to surrender, from re- + Latin crēdere to believe; compare miscreant
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 recreancy



"one who yields in combat, one who begs for mercy, one who admits defeat," early 15c., hence "coward, faint-hearted wretch;" from recreant (adj.) and from Old French recreant as a noun, "one who acknowledges defeat, a craven, coward, renegade, traitor, wretch." In English, sense of "apostate, deserter, villain" is from 1560s.

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c.1300, "confessing oneself to be overcome or vanquished," from Old French recreant "defeated, vanquished, yielding, giving; weak, exhausted; cowardly," present participle adjective from recroire "to yield in a trial by combat, surrender allegiance," literally "believe again;" perhaps on notion of "take back one's pledge, yield one's cause," from re- "again, back" (see re-) + croire "entrust, believe," from Latin credere (see credo).

Non sufficit ... nisi dicat illud verbum odiosum, quod recreantus sit. [Bracton, c.1260]

Meaning "cowardly" in English is from late 14c. Meaning "unfaithful to duty" is from 1640s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper