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

The question of what wetlands and small waterways should be covered by the Clean Water Act has a famously muddled history. Ariel Wittenberg, Science | AAAS, "Obama’s wetlands protection rule put ‘too much emphasis’ on science, Trump officials argue," 5 July 2018 The cases have resulted in hefty settlements by the city of Waukegan, mostly covered by insurance, though a few predate cities taking on coverage for these types of situations. Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, "Waukegan rejects apology but agrees to $9.5 million settlement for man cleared by DNA in 1995 rape," 5 July 2018 But many in the state's conservation community are worried wardens will need to be compensated for park work out of other funds intended to cover fishing, hunting, boat or ATV activities. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin warden shortage and changes in responsibilities raise concerns," 14 July 2018 Press about 1 tablespoon of dough around each mint wafer, covering it completely. Judy Buchenot, Naperville Sun, "Suburban Cooks: Mints go from trash to treasured cookies," 13 July 2018 And by selling its $950 genetic tests, which require a doctor’s order (insurers don’t cover it, either). Megan Molteni, WIRED, "This Company Wants Your Fertility Data," 13 July 2018 Of course, the reason for not covering it up could be due to time. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Justin Bieber Still Has His Selena Gomez Tattoo Even After Getting Engaged and It's AWKWARD," 11 July 2018 In January 2017, still bearing the wounds from the arson attack that would eventually kill her, Judy Malinowski spoke out about the day her boyfriend covered her in gasoline and set her aflame. Adam Carlson,, "Mom-of-2 Describes Horror of Boyfriend Lighting Her on Fire as He Pleads to Her Murder: 'Pure Evil'," 11 July 2018 For this mashup, Urick cooks dip Wick’s pie slices in funnel cake batter, deep-fry them and then cover them with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "Insane new Indiana State Fair foods that will complete your summer," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The investigation and possible cover-ups lead to the end of Sen. Kennedy’s run for the presidency. Guy Hanford, Ramona Sentinel, "Flickers," 12 July 2018 And with a moonlight performance by rising 18-year-old reggae star Koffee on the itinerary as well, many of the stylish attendees reworked Prism’s sleek cover-ups and bikinis for evening. Chioma Nnadi, Vogue, "Model Paloma Elsesser, Director Zoe Cassavetes, and More Head to Jamaica for Prism’s Intimate Resort Retreat," 11 July 2018 After an internal inquiry, the administration quietly terminated Tyndall in 2017 and gave him a payout (Tyndall has denied any wrongdoing), leading to accusations of a cover-up. Alex Bhattacharji, Town & Country, "Can USC Survive Scandal and Shed Its Spoiled-Kid Reputation Once and For All?," 10 July 2018 Shine blew up Fox and ruined his own TV career in a long, but ultimately failed cover-up. Laura Mcgann, Vox, "Bill Shine covered up sexual harassment at Fox News for decades until the plot blew up in his face," 5 July 2018 The case has highlighted Trump’s willingness to lobby for specific outcomes of federal criminal investigations and to suggest a cover-up by his own Department of Justice. Shawn Boburg,, "Former Wasserman Schultz aide Imran Awan reaches plea deal that debunks conspiracy theories about illegal information access," 3 July 2018 Starting today and running through Sunday, the site is offering an extra 40 percent off vacation essentials like swimsuits, cover-ups, and sandals. Indya Brown, The Cut, "13 Designer Picks From the Outnet’s July 4th Sale," 29 June 2018 The Harvey report, for which the city paid more than $140,000, found no evidence of a cover-up by police commanders but said mistakes, some of them significant, were made in investigating abuse allegations in 2013 and 2016. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville mayor, chief: No plan to bring back Explorer Scouts," 28 June 2018 In 1973, former White House Counsel John W. Dean began testifying before the Senate Watergate Committee, implicating top administration officials, including President Nixon as well as himself, in the Watergate scandal and cover-up., "This day in history," 25 June 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

21 Sep 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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characteristic trappings or dress

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