white feather

See more synonyms for white feather on Thesaurus.com
  1. show the white feather, to behave in a cowardly manner.

Origin of white feather

First recorded in 1775–85; orig. from a white feather in a gamecock's tail, taken as a sign of inferior breeding and hence of poor fighting qualities
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for white feather

anxiety, apprehension, doubt, fear, timidity

Examples from the Web for white feather

Historical Examples of white feather

British Dictionary definitions for white feather

white feather

  1. a symbol or mark of cowardice
  2. show the white feather to act in a cowardly manner

Word Origin for white feather

from the belief that a white feather in a gamecock's tail was a sign of a poor fighter
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 white feather

as a symbol of cowardice, 1785, supposedly from game-cocks, "where having a white feather, is proof he is not of the true game breed" [Grose].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with white feather

white feather

see show the white feather.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.