cowardly or craven.
unfaithful, disloyal, or traitorous.


a coward.
an apostate, traitor, or renegade.

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

Antonyms for recreant

1. brave. 2. loyal. 3. hero. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for recreant

Historical Examples of recreant

  • With Peter Pan for company, Sophie waited on the porch for the recreant pair.

    Glory of Youth

    Temple Bailey

  • "Why you should call him a recreant knight, I cannot for the life of me understand," she said.

    Kept in the Dark

    Anthony Trollope

  • Nor would he come forth, for all that Sir Bors called him coward and recreant.

  • The groomsmen are denouncing him, as he deserves to be, as a slanderer and recreant.

    Marion's Faith.

    Charles King

  • Finding her so obstinate he had said to her in a loud voice, "Die, recreant!"

British Dictionary definitions for recreant



cowardly; faint-hearted


a disloyal or cowardly person
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 recreant

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.


"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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper