cow·​ard·​ice | \ ˈkau̇(-ə)r-dəs How to pronounce cowardice (audio) , dialectal -(ˌ)dīs\

Definition of cowardice

: lack of courage or firmness of purpose soldiers accused of cowardice

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Examples of cowardice in a Sentence

the cowardice shown by political leaders who were willing to give the Nazis whatever they wanted

Recent Examples on the Web

That pulling a weapon at a fistfight is a shameful act of cowardice and betrayal of a timeless code. John Archibald |, al, "Virtues learned in the South," 18 Aug. 2019 And refusing to acknowledge that only one side in this debate seeks intentionally to paralyze us is the path of cowardice. E.j. Dionne Jr., The Mercury News, "Dionne: On guns and white nationalism, one side is right and one is wrong," 6 Aug. 2019 The reason that the needle hasn’t moved in America’s response to these tragedies is the NRA’s money and the cowardice of politicians who take it. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Just before a shooter killed 20 in El Paso, the NRA celebrated looser Texas gun laws," 4 Aug. 2019 But anyone concerned about an eventual fiscal reckoning must consider the consequences of political cowardice before promising Americans more government benefits or tax cuts. The Washington Post, Twin Cities, "Other voices: The fate of the Cadillac tax should be a wake-up call," 28 July 2019 Part of you fantasizes about slipping into that gap—between the false, righteous public self and the inner chaos of shame, cowardice, bad faith—and vanishing altogether. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, "Notes on Cancel Culture," 1 July 2019 Can a police officer be arrested, charged, tried and sentenced for alleged cowardice? Andrew Boryga,, "Former school cop Scot Peterson: He’s been called a coward, but is that a crime?," 7 June 2019 Their cowardice will be remembered just as surely as McCain’s wartime heroism. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump’s Jerusalem Horror Show," 16 May 2018 And not all of it from a conscious place of evil or even cowardice. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Journalist Ronan Farrow on Recode Decode," 4 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cowardice.' 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 cowardice

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cowardice

Middle English cowardise, from Anglo-French coardise, from cuard — see coward

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Statistics for cowardice

Last Updated

24 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for cowardice

The first known use of cowardice was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for cowardice



English Language Learners Definition of cowardice

: fear that makes you unable to do what is right or expected : lack of courage


cow·​ard·​ice | \ ˈkau̇-ər-dəs How to pronounce cowardice (audio) \

Kids Definition of cowardice

: shameful fear

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Comments on cowardice

What made you want to look up cowardice? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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