a spiritless coward
About the Word:
P.G. Wodehouse was fond enough of this sixteenth-century term to use it in several of his books. For example:
"Archie ... was no poltroon, and had proved the fact on many occasions during the days when the entire German army seemed to be picking on him personally ..." (Indiscretions of Archie, 1921)
Poltroon comes from the Latin pullus, meaning "young of an animal."