We're working on a new site. Click here to get a sneak preview.


adverb cow·ard·ly \-lē\

Definition of COWARDLY

:  in a cowardly manner

First Known Use of COWARDLY

14th century



: afraid in a way that makes you unable to do what is right or expected : lacking courage

Full Definition of COWARDLY

:  being, resembling, or befitting a coward <a cowardly retreat>
cow·ard·li·ness noun

Examples of COWARDLY

  1. He insisted on avoiding a cowardly retreat.
  2. She made a cowardly decision to go along with the group.
  3. a cowardly attack from behind

First Known Use of COWARDLY


Synonym Discussion of COWARDLY

cowardly, pusillanimous, craven, dastardly mean having or showing a lack of courage. cowardly implies a weak or ignoble lack of courage <a cowardly failure to stand up for principle>. pusillanimous suggests a contemptible lack of courage <the pusillanimous fear of a future full of possibility>. craven suggests extreme defeatism and complete lack of resistance <secretly despised her own craven yes-men>. dastardly often implies behavior that is both cowardly and treacherous or skulking or outrageous <a dastardly attack on unarmed civilians>.
COWARDLY Defined for Kids


adjective cow·ard·ly \ˈka-ərd-lē\

Definition of COWARDLY for Kids

:  shamefully fearful <a cowardly traitor>
:  showing shameful fear <Then he … said how hard-hearted and cowardly it was to hurt the weak … — Anna Sewell, Black Beauty>
cow·ard·li·ness noun


Next Word in the Dictionary: cowardnessPrevious Word in the Dictionary: cowardiceAll Words Near: cowardly
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears