Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb, cov·er \ˈkə-vər\

Simple Definition of cover

  • : to put something over, on top of, or in front of (something else) especially in order to protect, hide, or close it

  • : to be spread over or on top of (something)

  • : to be over much or all of the surface of (something)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of cover

coveredcovering play \ˈkəv-riŋ, ˈkə-və-\

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to guard from attack b (1) :  to have within the range of one's guns :  command (2) :  to hold within range of an aimed firearm c (1) :  to afford protection or security to :  insure (2) :  to afford protection against or compensation for <a policy covering loss by fire> d (1) :  to guard (an opponent) in order to obstruct a play <a linebacker assigned to cover the tight end> (2) :  to be in position to receive a throw to (a base in baseball) <the shortstop was covering second> e (1) :  to make provision for (a demand or charge) by means of a reserve or deposit <your balance is insufficient to cover the check> (2) :  to maintain a check on especially by patrolling (3) :  to protect by contrivance or expedient

  3. 2 a :  to hide from sight or knowledge :  conceal <cover up a scandal> b :  to lie over :  envelop <a blanket covering her legs>

  4. 3 :  to lay or spread something over :  overlay <cover the seed bed with straw>

  5. 4 a :  to spread over <snow covered the hills> b :  to appear here and there on the surface of <a region covered with lakes>

  6. 5 :  to place or set a cover or covering over <cover the pot>

  7. 6 a :  to copulate with (a female animal) <a horse covers a mare> b :  to sit on and incubate (eggs)

  8. 7 :  to invest with a large or excessive amount of something <covered herself with glory>

  9. 8 :  to play a higher-ranking card on (a previously played card)

  10. 9 :  to have sufficient scope to include or take into account <an examination covering a full year's work>

  11. 10 :  to deal with :  treat <material covered in the first chapter>

  12. 11 a :  to have as one's territory or field of activity <one sales rep covers the whole state> b :  to report news about <reporters covering the campaign>

  13. 12 :  to pass over :  traverse <the hikers covered 12 miles that day>

  14. 13 :  to defray the cost of <cover expenses>

  15. 14 :  to place one's stake in equal jeopardy with in a bet

  16. 15 :  to buy securities or commodities for delivery against (an earlier short sale)

  17. 16 :  to record or perform a cover of (a song)

  18. intransitive verb
  19. 1 :  to conceal something illicit, blameworthy, or embarrassing from notice —usually used with up

  20. 2 :  to act as a substitute or replacement during an absence

coverable play \ˈkəv-rə-bəl, ˈkə-və-\ adjective
coverer play \ˈkə-vər-ər\ noun
cover one's tracks
  1. :  to conceal traces in order to elude pursuers or escape detection

cover the ground or cover ground
  1. :  to deal with a subject or assignment in a particular manner <the new book covers a lot of ground>

Examples of cover in a sentence

  1. The gardener covered the soil with mulch.

  2. The furniture had been covered in a protective cloth.

  3. We covered the stains on the wall with a fresh coat of paint.

  4. You should cover your mouth when you cough.

  5. She covered her head with a scarf.

  6. tables covered with white linen

  7. Lakes cover much of the state.

  8. The hikers covered long distances every day.

  9. The bird may cover thousands of miles during its migration.

Origin of cover

Middle English, from Anglo-French coverir, covrir, from Latin cooperire, from co- + operire to close, cover

First Known Use: 13th century



noun, often attributive cov·er

Simple Definition of cover

  • : something that is put around or on top of another thing especially to protect, hide, or close it

  • : a blanket or sheet on a bed

  • : the outer part of a book or magazine

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of cover

  1. 1 :  something that protects, shelters, or guards: as a :  natural shelter for an animal; also :  the factors that provide such shelter b (1) :  a position or situation affording protection from enemy fire (2) :  the protection offered by airplanes in tactical support of a military operation c British :  coverage 1a, b, 2a

  2. 2 :  something that is placed over or about another thing: a :  lid, top b :  a binding or case for a book or the analogous part of a magazine; also :  the front or back of such a binding c :  an overlay or outer layer especially for protection <a mattress cover> d :  a tablecloth and the other table accessories e :  cover charge f :  roof g :  a cloth used on a bed for warmth or for decoration —usually used in plural <lying under the covers> h :  something (as vegetation or snow) that covers the ground i :  the extent to which clouds obscure the sky

  3. 3 a :  something that conceals or obscures <under cover of darkness> b :  a masking device :  pretext <the project was a cover for intelligence operations>

  4. 4 :  an envelope or wrapper for mail

  5. 5 :  one who substitutes for another during an absence

  6. 6 :  a recording or performance of a song previously recorded by another performer

coverless play \ˈkə-vər-ləs\ adjective
under cover
  1. 1 :  in an envelope or wrapper

  2. 2 :  under concealment :  in secret

Examples of cover in a sentence

  1. She placed a cover over the pan so that the oil wouldn't spatter.

  2. I put a cover on the sofa to protect it.

  3. There's a picture of the author on the book's back cover.

  4. The singer is posing in jeans and cowboy boots on the album cover.

14th Century

First Known Use of cover

14th century

Other Aeronautics/Aerospace Terms

COVER Defined for Kids



verb cov·er \ˈkə-vər\

Definition of cover for Students


  1. 1 :  to place or spread something over <Cover the pot.> <She covered her head with a cloth and said a special prayer … — Lois Lowry, Number the Stars>

  2. 2 :  to be spread with or extend over much or all of the surface of <His face is covered with freckles.>

  3. 3 :  to form a covering over <Snow covered the ground.>

  4. 4 :  to pass over or through <The bikers covered 50 miles a day.>

  5. 5 :  to provide protection to or against <Soldiers covered the landing with artillery.>

  6. 6 :  to maintain a check on by patrolling <Police cover the highways.>

  7. 7 :  to hide from sight or knowledge <I covered my embarrassment.>

  8. 8 :  to deal with as a subject <The test will cover everything we've studied so far.>

  9. 9 :  to have as a field of activity or interest <Our newspaper employs a reporter covering the courthouse.>

  10. 10 :  to provide insurance for



noun cov·er

Definition of cover for Students

  1. 1 :  something that protects, shelters, or hides

  2. 2 :  a covering (as a blanket) used on a bed

  3. 3 :  a binding or a protecting case <a book cover>

  4. 4 :  something that is placed over or about another thing :  lid, top <a mattress cover> <the cover of a box>

Law Dictionary



transitive verb cov·er

Legal Definition of cover

  1. 1 :  insure <this policy covers other family drivers>

  2. 2 :  to give protection against or compensation or indemnification for <doesn't cover flood damage>

  3. intransitive verb
  4. :  to obtain cover <where the seller anticipatorily repudiates a contract and the buyer does not coverCosden Oil & Chemical Co. v. Karl O. Helm AG, 736 F.2d 1064 (1984)>



noun cov·er

Legal Definition of cover

  1. :  purchase of goods in substitution for those originally contracted for when the seller fails to fulfill the contract <the buyer is always free to choose between cover and damages for nondelivery — Uniform Commercial Code>; also :  the substituted goods

Additional Notes on cover

Under the Uniform Commercial Code, when a seller does not perform on a contract, the buyer has the option of covering, with the seller paying the difference between the cost of the cover and the original contract price, or seeking damages for nonperformance. Reselling is the seller's comparable remedy when a buyer does not perform under a contract.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up cover? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to expose to danger or risk

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.