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noun (1)

bow·​er ˈbau̇(-ə)r How to pronounce bower (audio)
: an attractive dwelling or retreat
: a lady's private apartment in a medieval hall or castle
: a shelter (as in a garden) made with tree boughs or vines twined together : arbor


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bowered; bowering; bowers

transitive verb

: embower, enclose
tree-bowered streets


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noun (2)

nautical : an anchor carried at the bow of a ship

Did you know?

If you visited someone’s bower a millennium ago, you’d likely have found yourself at an attractive rustic cottage. A few centuries later, a visit to a bower could have involved a peek into a lady’s personal hideaway within a medieval castle or hall—that is, her private apartment. Both meanings hark back to the word’s ancient roots: it comes from Old English būr, meaning “dwelling.” Today, bower is more familiar as a word for a garden shelter made with tree boughs or vines twined together, a meaning that overlaps with that of arbor. (The adjective bowery, meaning “like a bower” or “full of bowers” is used to describe areas that resemble or are filled with these leafy pergola-like structures). Bower also features in the name of bowerbirds, any of approximately 20 different bird species native to Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, the males of which build more-or-less elaborate structures using twigs, moss, and other plant materials to woo potential mates during courtship.

Examples of bower in a Sentence

Verb bowered by a canopy of grapevines, we enjoyed a serene and very private picnic
Recent Examples on the Web
The highest-ranking card of the original suit played wins the trick unless a card from the trump suit (including the left bower) is played, which would outrank any other card. Stephen J. Beard, USA TODAY, 17 Aug. 2023 Throughout the day Saturday and Sunday there will be live performances in each bower of the audio collaborations. Brittanie Shey, Chron, 14 Apr. 2023 This elegant crisscross trellis can be used in the most formal of outdoor spaces to support climbing foliage like pink bower vines. Jill Gleeson, Country Living, 31 Mar. 2023 The shot started an image-making trend that extended through Cindy Crawford, Britney Spears, Ciara and Gigi Hadid, though all of them were topped by Beyoncé’s 2017 pregnant-while-wearing-lingerie-in-a-bower baby-bump photo shoot. New York Times, 31 Jan. 2022 But with the events of this past year—not least a parental uprising against the wokish material taught in Virginia’s public schools—even outsiders are aware that children’s literature has become as much a battlefield as a bower. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, 17 Dec. 2021 Today, a cafe occupies part of the ground floor, its tables and chairs distributed under a leafy bower on the veranda. New York Times, 9 June 2022 People not involved in the world of children’s books, either professionally or personally through children and grandchildren, may imagine a peaceful bower where bunnies hop and pixies flit and tots run back and forth making wonderful discoveries. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, 17 Dec. 2021 The male organizes rocks, shells, and other objects from small to large outside of the bower. Mary Bates, National Geographic, 24 Nov. 2020

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

Word History


Noun (1) and Verb

Middle English bour dwelling, from Old English būr; akin to Old English & Old High German būan to dwell, Old English bēon to be — more at be

First Known Use

Noun (1)

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


1599, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1652, in the meaning defined above

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


Dictionary Entries Near bower

Cite this Entry

“Bower.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a safe and private place for rest
: a shelter in a garden made of tree boughs or vines twisted together

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