bow

1 of 5

verb (1)

bowed; bowing; bows

intransitive verb

1
: to cease from competition or resistance : submit, yield
refusing to bow to the inevitableJohn O'Hara
also : to suffer defeat
bowed to the champion
2
: to bend the head, body, or knee in reverence, submission, or shame
Bow before the king.
bowed her head in shame
3
: to incline the head or body in salutation or assent or to acknowledge applause
bowing to the audience
4
: debut
the play will bow next month

transitive verb

1
: to cause to incline
wind bowing the treetops
2
: to incline especially in respect or submission
bow their heads in prayer
3
: to crush with a heavy burden
whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave Shakespeare
4
a
: to express by bending the head, body, or knee : to express by bowing
bowing his appreciation
b
: to usher in or out with a bow (see bow entry 2)

bow

2 of 5

noun (1)

: a bending of the head or body in respect, submission, assent, or salutation
also : a show of respect or submission
smiled and gave a bow

bow

3 of 5

noun (2)

1
a
: something bent into a simple curve or arc
b
2
: a weapon that is used to propel an arrow and that is made of a strip of flexible material (such as wood) with a cord connecting the two ends and holding the strip bent
hunting with bow and arrow
3
: archer
4
a
: a metal ring or loop forming a handle (as of a key)
b
: a knot formed by doubling a ribbon or string into two or more loops
d
: a frame for the lenses of eyeglasses
also : the sidepiece of the frame passing over the ear
5
music
a
: a wooden rod with horsehairs stretched from end to end used in playing an instrument of the viol or violin family
b
: a stroke of such a bow
on the up bow

bow

4 of 5

verb (2)

bowed; bowing; bows

intransitive verb

1
: to bend into a curve
the wall bows a little
2
music : to play a stringed instrument with a bow (see bow entry 3 sense 5a)

transitive verb

1
: to cause to bend into a curve
Years of riding had bowed his legs.
2
music : to play (a stringed instrument) with a bow
bowing the strings

bow

5 of 5

noun (3)

1
nautical : the forward part of a ship
often used in plural
crossing the bows
2
nautical : bowman entry 2

Examples of bow in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Her country music album bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, according to Billboard and Luminate. Kimberly Nordyke, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Apr. 2024 The film bowed on streamer Disney+ Hotstar in India and worldwide excluding India on Netflix in late December 2023 and on Sony’s Indian television channels in February 2024. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 5 Apr. 2024 Republican Roscoe Bartlett bowed before Moon and Hak Jan Han, while Democrat Danny Davis brought forth a pillow bearing a golden crown for his head. TIME, 4 Apr. 2024 The set concurrently bows at No. 2 on Top Album Sales, No. 4 on Vinyl Albums and at No. 13 on the overall Billboard 200 chart. Pamela Bustios, Billboard, 2 Apr. 2024 Politely passing on a chance to help the public make sense of a story that still doesn’t add up, Ohtani bowed and slipped out of the room. Dylan Hernández, Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2024 The players have begun using some Japanese words — shoto for shortstop and fasto for first base, for instance — and even now sometimes bow on the field, mirroring their coach. Jack Nicas Dado Galdieri, New York Times, 28 Mar. 2024 The company president and other top officials held a news conference last week when the problem first surfaced, bowing their heads in apology, as is the standard in Japan. Yuri Kageyama, Quartz, 27 Mar. 2024 For the remainder of the government funding battle, Johnson rarely bowed to conservative pressure. USA TODAY, 24 Mar. 2024
Noun
The pop star, 20, who was once known for wearing bright clothes and hair bows, rocked an edgier look with black makeup in the video. Esme Mazzeo, Peoplemag, 7 Apr. 2024 But when the Dali toppled the Key Bridge, the roadway’s massive steel trusses fell onto the bow of the ship and trapped it. Katie Mettler, Washington Post, 7 Apr. 2024 Coquette This aesthetic is all things lace, bows, pinks and pastels, florals, and ruffles. Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal, Parents, 3 Apr. 2024 Interplay bows at No. 2 on the Official Chart Update, and should become the band’s fourth top 10 entry, alongside 1992’s Going Blank Again and 1994’s Carnival Of Light, both of which peaked at No. 5; and 2019’s This Is Not A Safe Place (No. 7). Lars Brandle, Billboard, 3 Apr. 2024 That evening, a pod of humpbacks was lunge-feeding off the bow of the ship, prompting me to excuse myself from dinner to look. Susan Portnoy, Travel + Leisure, 29 Mar. 2024 Then Ohtani stepped up to the plate, making what seemed to be a bow in the direction of the umpire. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, 29 Mar. 2024 The pier was like an A shape, so the bow snapped one side of the A. CBS News, 28 Mar. 2024 Parker could be seen holding a JW Anderson pigeon clutch from season 2 while Davis was dressed in a sliming black ensemble with a pink satin bow and a white peter pan collar. Esther Kang, Peoplemag, 26 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bow.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb (1) and Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English būgan; akin to Old High German biogan to bend, Sanskrit bhujati he bends

Noun (2) and Verb (2)

Middle English bowe, from Old English boga; akin to Old English būgan

Noun (3)

Middle English bowe, bowgh, probably from Middle Dutch boech bow, shoulder; akin to Old English bōg bough

First Known Use

Verb (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun (1)

circa 1656, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun (3)

1626, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bow was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near bow

Cite this Entry

“Bow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bow. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

bow

1 of 5 verb
1
: to bend the head, body, or knee in greeting, respect, agreement, or obedience
2
: yield entry 1 sense 5
bow to authority
3
: bend entry 1 sense 6
bowed with age
4
: to express by bowing
bow one's thanks

bow

2 of 5 noun
: a bending of the head or body expressing respect, agreement, obedience, or greeting

bow

3 of 5 noun
1
2
: a weapon used for shooting arrows that is usually made of a strip of wood bent by a cord connecting the two ends
3
: something that is curved like a bow
4
: a wooden rod with horsehairs stretched from end to end used for playing a violin or similar instrument
5
: a knot made with two or more loops
tie the ribbon in a bow

bow

4 of 5 verb
1
: to bend into a curve
2
: to play a stringed instrument with a bow

bow

5 of 5 noun
: the forward part of a ship
Etymology

Verb

Middle English bowen "to bend, yield," from Old English būgan "to bend in obedience"

Noun

Middle English bowe "something curved," from Old English boga (same meaning)

Noun

Middle English bowe (same meaning), probably from early Dutch boech "bow, shoulder"

Medical Definition

bow

noun
: a frame for the lenses of eyeglasses
also : the curved sidepiece of the frame passing over the ear

Geographical Definition

Bow

geographical name

river 315 miles (507 kilometers) long in southwestern Alberta, Canada, rising in Banff National Park

More from Merriam-Webster on bow

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