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  • timorous
  • audio pronunciation
  • \TIM-uh-rus\
  • DEFINITION

adjective

1
: of a timid disposition : fearful
2
: expressing or suggesting timidity
  • EXAMPLES

The study seems to suggests that timorous people suffer from stress more frequently than their more aggressive peers.

"Hwang's quest to prove his daughter died from a workplace-related illness has pitted him against the world's biggest technology company and a largely timorous South Korean media." — From an article by Justin McCurry in The Guardian (London), February 6, 2014

  • DID YOU KNOW?

"Timid" and "timorous" don't just have similar spellings and meanings; they are etymologically related as well. Both words ultimately derive from the Latin verb "timēre," meaning "to fear." The immediate ancestor of "timid" is Latin "timidus" (same meaning as "timid"), whereas "timorous" traveled to Middle English by way of the Latin noun "timor" ("fear") and the Medieval Latin adjective "timorosus." "Timid" may be the more common of the two words, but "timorous" is older. It first appeared in English in the mid-15th century; "timid" came on the scene a century later. Both words can mean "easily frightened" (as in "a timid mouse" or "a timorous child") as well as "indicating or characterized by fear" (as in "he gave a timid smile" or "she took a timorous step forward").

Test Your Memory: What 1-syllable word completes this sentence from a former Word of the Day piece: "The novel is never mocking or ______ in its tone—a marked departure from the writer's usual style"? The answer is …

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