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Word of the Day
Friday, June 11, 2010

Definitions for kowtow

  1. To act in an obsequious manner; show servile deference.
  2. To touch the forehead to the ground while kneeling, as an act of worship, reverence, apology, etc., especially in former Chinese custom.
  3. The act of kowtowing.

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Citations for kowtow
Mei-hua was sitting nearby, and though she could not understand the English words she understood what was happening. She murmured that her daughter should kowtow. Beverly Swerling, City of God
It's a new one for Morrison to meet a girl who doesn't kowtow. He's a very great personage in his line, and he can't help knowing it. Dorothy Canfield, The Bent Twig
Origin of kowtow
Kowtow comes from the Chinese practice of touching the ground with your forehead to show respect, called k'o t'ou. It literally means "to knock the head."