cov·er | \ˈkə-vər \
covered; covering\ˈkəv-riŋ, ˈkə-və- \

Definition of cover 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to guard from attack

b(1) : to have within the range of one's guns : command The ships were covering approaches to the harbor.

(2) : to hold within range of an aimed firearm The deputy covered the sheriff who was apprehending the suspect.

c(1) : to afford protection or security to : insure a policy covering the traveler in all kinds of accidents

(2) : to afford protection against or compensation (see compensation sense 2) for a policy covering loss by fire

d(1) : to guard (an opponent) in order to obstruct a play a linebacker assigned to cover the tight end

(2) : to be in position to receive a throw to (a base in baseball) The shortstop was covering second.

e(1) : to make provision for (a demand or charge) by means of a reserve or deposit Your balance is insufficient to cover the check.

(2) : to maintain a check on especially by patrolling motorcycle police covering the highways

(3) : to protect by contrivance or expedient

2a : to hide from sight or knowledge : conceal cover up a scandal

b : to lie over : envelop a blanket covering her legs

3 : to lay or spread something over : overlay Cover the seedbed with straw.

4a : to spread over Snow covered the hills.

b : to appear here and there on the surface of a region covered with lakes

5 : to place or set a cover or covering over Cover the pot.

6a : to copulate with (a female animal) a horse covers a mare

b : to sit on and incubate (eggs)

7 : to invest with a large or excessive amount of something covered herself with glory

8 : to play a higher-ranking card on (a previously played card)

9 : to have sufficient scope to include or take into account an examination covering a full year's work

10 : to deal with : treat material covered in the first chapter

11a : to have as one's territory or field of activity One sales rep covers the whole state.

b : to report news about reporters covering the campaign

12 : to pass over : traverse Tthe hikers covered 12 miles that day.

13 : to defray the cost of cover expenses

14 : to place one's stake in equal jeopardy with in a bet

15 : to buy securities or commodities for delivery against (an earlier short sale)

16 : to record or perform a cover of (a song)

intransitive verb

1 : to conceal something illicit, blameworthy, or embarrassing from notice usually used with up cover up for a careless coworker

2 : to act as a substitute or replacement during an absence a stand-in covering for an injured star

cover one's tracks

: to conceal traces in order to elude pursuers or escape detection

cover the ground or cover ground

: to deal with a subject or assignment in a particular manner The new book covers a lot of ground.


noun, often attributive

Definition of cover (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that protects, shelters, or guards: such as

a : natural shelter for an animal also : the factors that provide such shelter

b(1) : a position or situation affording protection from enemy fire

(2) : the protection offered by airplanes in tactical support of a military operation

c British : coverage sense 1a

2 : something that is placed over or about another thing:

a : lid, top

b : a binding or case for a book or the analogous part of a magazine also : the front or back of such a binding

c : an overlay or outer layer especially for protection a mattress cover

d : a tablecloth and the other table accessories

e : cover charge

f : roof

g : a cloth used on a bed for warmth or for decoration usually used in plural lying under the covers

h : something (such as vegetation or snow) that covers the ground

i : the extent to which clouds obscure the sky

3a : something that conceals or obscures under cover of darkness

b : a masking device : pretext The project was a cover for intelligence operations.

4 : an envelope or wrapper for mail

5 : one who substitutes for another during an absence

6 : a recording or performance of a song previously recorded by another performer

under cover

1 : in an envelope or wrapper

2 : under concealment : in secret

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Other Words from cover


coverable \ˈkəv-rə-bəl, ˈkə-və- \ adjective
coverer \ˈkə-vər-ər \ noun


coverless \ˈkə-vər-ləs \ adjective

Examples of cover in a Sentence


The gardener covered the soil with mulch. The furniture had been covered in a protective cloth. We covered the stains on the wall with a fresh coat of paint. You should cover your mouth when you cough. She covered her head with a scarf. tables covered with white linen Lakes cover much of the state. The hikers covered long distances every day. The bird may cover thousands of miles during its migration.


She placed a cover over the pan so that the oil wouldn't spatter. I put a cover on the sofa to protect it. There's a picture of the author on the book's back cover. The singer is posing in jeans and cowboy boots on the album cover.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Stage 8 on Saturday will cover a slightly more challenging terrain over about 112 miles from Dreux to Amiens but again should set up well for sprinters. New York Times, "Longest Stage of the Tour de France Is Actually a Chance to Relax," 13 July 2018 The best view will be in south Tasmania where 4.5 percent of the sun will be covered. Editors, USA TODAY, "Trump visits Queen Elizabeth II, Wimbledon semifinals, Supermoon Solar Eclipse: 5 things to know Friday," 13 July 2018 The campaign is crisscrossing the state, and will likely cover thousands of miles. Karen Herzog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Retro UW-Madison delivery van hits road with myth-busting facts, Babcock ice cream," 13 July 2018 The disbursements will cover more than 100 investors, some of whom entrusted Siskey with hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece, according to court filings. Deon Roberts, charlotteobserver, "Rick Siskey Ponzi victims will finally get paid, as part of a $10 million deal," 11 July 2018 No one knows what the final tab will be, and Connecticut officials are hoping federal emergency storm aid will cover the cost. Gregory B. Hladky,, "'Unfortunately, Mother Nature Took It Away.' Sleeping Giant State Park Remains Unrecognizable As Storm Cleanup Continues," 11 July 2018 In Melbourne, Australia, 4% of the sun’s diameter will be covered, which means only a sliver of sun will be darkened by the eclipse. Gabby Raymond, Time, "A Partial Solar Eclipse Is Coming on Friday the 13th. That Hasn't Happened in 40 Years," 10 July 2018 Croatia, which trains in the Leningrad region, near Russia’s borders with Estonia and Finland, traveled to Sochi for its quarterfinal and will cover 2,700 miles between that game and the England match. Kevin Baxter,, "Migrant workers got World Cup started and have kept it going," 9 July 2018 Because of a tide that’s about 1 to 1 ½ feet above normal, flooding is expected at the end of Thames Street in Baltimore, and will likely cover the promenade at the Inner Harbor’s dragon boat dock, according to the National Weather Service. Christina Tkacik,, "Coastal flood warning in effect for Baltimore City, southern Baltimore County through Monday morning," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Her pictures once accompanied stories on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. David D’arcy,, "Susan Meiselas photography retrospective at SFMOMA," 12 July 2018 The 25-year-old singer opened up about that physical anxiety in a new interview in Elle magazine’s August issue, in which Grande appears on the cover. Johnny Diaz,, "Ariana Grande had 'really wild dizzy spells' after bombing at her Manchester concert," 11 July 2018 On the left: 138 pounds, complimented all day and propositioned by men and on the cover of a tabloid about diets that work. Blake Bakkila,, "Lena Dunham Gained 24 Pounds—and Is Happier Than Ever," 10 July 2018 For example, take a look at this photographic evidence that shows Hailey holding an issue of M magazine that features Jelena on the cover. Alison Caporimo, Seventeen, "Hailey Baldwin Was A Massive Jelena Shipper Before She Got Engaged to Justin Bieber," 10 July 2018 Fiona has been on the cover of three Scholastic Classroom Magazines that reached millions of students with stories accompanied by reading exercises or math formulas such as finding how many bathtubs the water in her zoo would fill. Dan Sewell, The Seattle Times, "Fiona, Cincinnati zoo’s famous preemie hippo, becomes a force for teaching kids," 2 July 2018 The French edition of Vanity Fair put one of the pictures on the cover of its August 2016 issue. NBC News, "News media paid Melania Trump thousands for use of photos in 'positive stories only'," 2 July 2018 The winner, to be announced at a later date, will have a photograph appear on the cover of Document’s fall/winter 2018 issue, and all five finalists will be featured on Document Online. Sarah Nechamkin, The Cut, "Meet the Finalists for the New Vanguard Photography Prize," 2 July 2018 Fiona has been on the cover of three Scholastic News Magazines that reached millions of students with stories accompanied by reading exercises or math formulas such as finding how many bathtubs the water in her zoo would fill. Dan Sewell,, "Professor Fiona? Famed baby hippo an educational force," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cover.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cover


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cover


Middle English, from Anglo-French coverir, covrir, from Latin cooperire, from co- + operire to close, cover


see cover entry 1

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Statistics for cover

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cover

The first known use of cover was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for cover



English Language Learners Definition of cover

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to put something over, on top of, or in front of (something else) especially in order to protect, hide, or close it

: to be spread over or on top of (something)

: to be over much or all of the surface of (something)



English Language Learners Definition of cover (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is put around or on top of another thing especially to protect, hide, or close it

: a blanket or sheet on a bed

: the outer part of a book or magazine


cov·er | \ˈkə-vər \
covered; covering

Kids Definition of cover

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to place or spread something over Cover the pot. She covered her head with a cloth and said a special prayer …— Lois Lowry, Number the Stars

2 : to be spread with or extend over much or all of the surface of His face is covered with freckles.

3 : to form a covering over Snow covered the ground.

4 : to pass over or through The bikers covered 50 miles a day.

5 : to provide protection to or against Soldiers covered the landing with artillery.

6 : to maintain a check on by patrolling Police cover the highways.

7 : to hide from sight or knowledge I covered my embarrassment.

8 : to deal with as a subject The test will cover everything we've studied so far.

9 : to have as a field of activity or interest Our newspaper employs a reporter covering the courthouse.

10 : to provide insurance for



Kids Definition of cover (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that protects, shelters, or hides

2 : a covering (as a blanket) used on a bed

3 : a binding or a protecting case a book cover

4 : something that is placed over or about another thing : lid, top a mattress cover the cover of a box


Legal Definition of cover 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : insure this policy covers other family drivers

2 : to give protection against or compensation or indemnification for doesn't cover flood damage

intransitive verb

: to obtain cover where the seller anticipatorily repudiates a contract and the buyer does not coverCosden Oil & Chemical Co. v. Karl O. Helm AG, 736 F.2d 1064 (1984)



Legal Definition of cover (Entry 2 of 2)

: purchase of goods in substitution for those originally contracted for when the seller fails to fulfill the contract the buyer is always free to choose between cover and damages for nondeliveryUniform Commercial Code also : the substituted goods

Note: Under the Uniform Commercial Code, when a seller does not perform on a contract, the buyer has the option of covering, with the seller paying the difference between the cost of the cover and the original contract price, or seeking damages for nonperformance. Reselling is the seller's comparable remedy when a buyer does not perform under a contract.

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More from Merriam-Webster on cover

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cover

Spanish Central: Translation of cover

Nglish: Translation of cover for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cover for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cover

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