white feather

See synonyms for white feather on Thesaurus.com
nounChiefly British.
  1. a symbol of cowardice.

Idioms about white feather

  1. show the white feather, to behave in a cowardly manner.

Origin of white feather

1
First recorded in 1775–85; originally from a white feather in a gamecock's tail, taken as a sign of inferior breeding and hence of poor fighting qualities

Words Nearby white feather

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use white feather in a sentence

  • Around her throat was a white feather boa, while her features were half concealed by the veil she wore.

    The Doctor of Pimlico | William Le Queux
  • Three more civilians, wearing the white-feather symbol on their overcoats, advanced toward Winfree.

    The Great Potlatch Riots | Allen Kim Lang
  • He took the little white feather from his hatbrim and attached it to Winfree's tattered, blood-stained tunic.

    The Great Potlatch Riots | Allen Kim Lang
  • And, if you don't mind, I'll lend you a white feather hat and boa.

    Sarah's School Friend | May Baldwin
  • Instantly beside them on the forest floor they saw three soft white feather beds.

    Mighty Mikko | Parker Fillmore

British Dictionary definitions for white feather

white feather

noun
  1. a symbol or mark of cowardice

  2. show the white feather to act in a cowardly manner

Origin of white feather

1
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

Other 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.