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

Imagine Priyanka descending from these stairs covered in Tiffany diamonds. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas Are Reportedly Getting Married in a Literal Palace," 12 Nov. 2018 The idea that six full years could pass in this show — nearly two-thirds of the time span covered in its entire run — and leave no significant mark speaks to the very problem the show has been facing these past few years. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "The Walking Dead’s fresh start looks like a big step back," 12 Nov. 2018 There may be pricier truffles and treats in this world, covered in gold flakes or disgorged from a goose's belly. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Yes, we flew to Japan to watch someone pour liquid nitrogen on custom Kit Kats," 28 Oct. 2018 Five hundred is a staggering number of accusations, covered in nearly 100 lawsuits, yet many Americans know little or nothing about the case. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Inside the USC Sexual Abuse Scandal: Three Women Tell Their Stories," 26 Oct. 2018 Place potatoes in a large pot, add enough cold water to cover, and bring to a boil. Woman's Day Test Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Garlic- and Sage-Infused Mashed Potatoes," 24 Oct. 2018 Kate Middleton has arrived to a state dinner at Buckingham Palace, covered in luxe jewels. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Is Covered in Jewels for a State Dinner at Buckingham Palace," 23 Oct. 2018 Perhaps the most notorious room is the leopard-print bathroom covered in Helmut Newton photographs—including Elsa Peretti in a bunny costume. Kate Donnelly, Town & Country, "At Home with Texas Philanthropist Lynn Wyatt," 19 Oct. 2018 Walk the labyrinthine streets to Akra, a cavernous restaurant in the souk that sells all kinds of hummus, including my favorite, with fatteh, covered in a luscious layer of labneh. John Gregory-smith, Condé Nast Traveler, "In Lebanon, Let Food Be Your Guide," 16 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the report, the Journal uncovers a troubling culture at UA beyond the systemic endorsement of strip club visits, including the company’s reported cover-up of misconduct from two executives. Chavie Lieber, Vox, "Under Armour won’t let employees expense “adult entertainment,” limos, or gambling anymore," 7 Nov. 2018 The point is, there is plenty to do instead of hiding out under the covers. Patricia Garcia, Vogue, "If Climate Change Is Causing You Anxiety or Even Grief, Experts Say You are Not Alone," 19 Oct. 2018 Visitors are reportedly expected to wear the cover-ups before entering a Balinese temple, and the Obamas' Secret Service agent sported one too. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Here's What Barack Obama Is Doing Now," 16 July 2018 The boy told police that Sandoval took both his own and the boy's pants off before touching the boy under the covers, according to KSAT. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "Grandmother heard boy cry, ‘No, no, stop,’ in the bedroom. Then this man left town, Texas cops say," 11 July 2018 Largely nocturnal, mudpuppies are found under the cover of rocks and logs or other suitable structures. Michigan Wildlife Council, Detroit Free Press, "Polishing a gem: Plan aims for St. Clair-Detroit River system improvements," 10 July 2018 North Carolina's famous loggerhead sea turtles are notorious for their sneaky approach to nesting, coming ashore after sunset and laying eggs under cover of darkness. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "Tourists warned sea turtles may nest in broad daylight — that's rare at Cape Hatteras," 5 July 2018 Under cover of darkness and all by himself, Magic Johnson arrived at LeBron James’ Brentwood house at 9:01 p.m. on Saturday. Tania Ganguli,, "Late Saturday night meeting with Magic Johnson sealed LeBron James' decision to accept Lakers offer," 2 July 2018 Doing it under cover of super-vigilant SPF (and a hat). Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY, "5 SPF trends your face needs this summer," 29 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

16 Nov 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

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