Nearby words

  1. covenantor,
  2. covent,
  3. covent garden,
  4. coventry,
  5. coventry bell,
  6. cover bidding ,
  7. cover boy,
  8. cover charge,
  9. cover crop,
  10. cover for


Origin of cover

1200–50; Middle English coveren < Old French covrir < Latin cooperīre to cover completely, equivalent to co- co- + operīre to shut, close, cover (op-, apparently for ob- ob- + -erīre; see aperient)

Related forms

Synonym study

37, 38. Cover, protection, screen, shelter mean a defense against harm or danger and a provision for safety. The main idea in cover is that of concealment, as in darkness, in a wood, or behind something: The ground troops were left without cover when the air force was withdrawn. Screen refers especially to something behind which one can hide: A well-aimed artillary fire formed a screen for ground operations. Protection and shelter emphasize the idea of a guard or defense, a shield against injury or death. A protection is any such shield: In World War II, an air cover of airplanes served as a protection for troops. A shelter is something that covers over and acts as a place of refuge: An abandoned monastery acted as a shelter. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for take cover


verb (mainly tr)

to place or spread something over so as to protect or conceal
to provide with a covering; clothe
to put a garment, esp a hat, on (the body or head)
to extend over or lie thickly on the surface of; spreadsnow covered the fields
to bring upon (oneself); invest (oneself) as if with a coveringcovered with shame
(sometimes foll by up) to act as a screen or concealment for; hide from view
military to protect (an individual, formation, or place) by taking up a position from which fire may be returned if those being protected are fired upon
(also intr, often foll by for) to assume responsibility for (a person or thing)to cover for a colleague in his absence
(intr; foll by for or up for) to provide an alibi (for)
to have as one's territorythis salesman covers your area
to travel overto cover three miles a day
(tr) to have or place in the aim and within the range of (a firearm)
to include or deal withhis talk covered all aspects of the subject
(of an asset or income) to be sufficient to meet (a liability or expense)
  1. to insure against loss, risk, etc
  2. to provide for (loss, risk, etc) by insurance
(also intr) finance to purchase (securities, etc) in order to meet contracts, esp short sales
to deposit (an equivalent stake) in a bet or wager
(also intr) to play a card higher in rank than (one played beforehand by another player)
to act as reporter or photographer on (a news event, etc) for a newspaper or magazineto cover sports events
sport to guard or protect (an opponent, team-mate, or area)
music to record a cover version of
(of a male animal, esp a horse) to copulate with (a female animal)
(of a bird) to brood (eggs)


anything that covers, spreads over, protects, or conceals
woods or bushes providing shelter or a habitat for wild creatures
  1. a blanket used on a bed for warmth
  2. another word for bedspread
finance liquid assets, reserves, or guaranteed income sufficient to discharge a liability, meet an expenditure, etc
a pretext, disguise, or false identitythe thief sold brushes as a cover
insurance another word for coverage (def. 3)
an envelope or package for sending through the postunder plain cover
  1. an entire envelope that has been postmarked
  2. on cover(of a postage stamp) kept in this form by collectors
an individual table setting, esp in a restaurant
sport the guarding or protection of an opponent, team-mate, or area
Also called: cover version a version by a different artist of a previously recorded musical item
  1. (often plural)the area more or less at right angles to the pitch on the off side and usually about halfway to the boundaryto field in the covers
  2. (as modifier)a cover drive by a batsman
  3. Also called: cover pointa fielder in such a position
ecology the percentage of the ground surface covered by a given species of plant
break cover (esp of game animals) to come out from a shelter or hiding place
take cover to make for a place of safety or shelter
under cover protected, concealed, or in secretunder cover of night
See also cover-up

Derived Formscoverable, adjectivecoverer, nouncoverless, adjective

Word Origin for cover

C13: from Old French covrir, from Latin cooperīre to cover completely, from operīre to cover over

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 take cover
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with take cover

take cover

Seek protection, find a hiding place, as in It started to pour so we took cover under the trees, or He wanted to avoid the reporters so we said he could take cover in our summer cottage. This term uses cover in the sense of “shelter” or “concealment,” a usage dating from the 1400s.


In addition to the idioms beginning with cover

  • cover for
  • cover girl
  • cover ground
  • cover one's ass
  • cover one's tracks
  • cover story
  • cover the field
  • cover up

also see:

  • blow one's cover
  • break cover
  • judge a book by its cover
  • (cover a) multitude of sins
  • take cover
  • under cover
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.