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 This is political cowardice, and many of Biden’s allies are starting to suggest as much. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 9 July 2021 Over the next nearly three minutes, Macdonald-as-moth waxes fatalistic about the malaise of working life, the travails of fatherhood — seeing his own cowardice reflected in the face of his son — and experiencing thoughts of suicide. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 15 Sep. 2021 Dozens, if not hundreds, of rounds of gunfire were exchanged before Riley surrendered with his hands up, something Judd categorized as the gunman showing his true cowardice. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 8 Sep. 2021 Not only was there never any consequences for their lies and their failures in Vietnam, or their cowardice in avoiding that conflict themselves, they were rewarded with wealth and power. J.d. Crowe |, al, 25 Aug. 2021 After the horrifying incompetence and political cowardice of Biden's retreat, what is our Afghanistan policy going to be? Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 29 Aug. 2021 Humans build cities as fortresses against failure: economic collapse, natural catastrophe, human venality and cowardice. Adam Rogers, Wired, 10 Aug. 2021 If an officer’s foremost task, other than winning wars, is to bring as many soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines back home alive, then their silence is an act of profound moral cowardice and a dereliction of duty. Timothy Kudo, The New Republic, 12 July 2021 At the heart of this exemption from the retention rules for state lawmakers are arrogance and cowardice. Larry Gallup, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9 June 2021

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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Time Traveler for cowardice

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

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cowardice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on cowardice

Nglish: Translation of cowardice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cowardice for Arabic Speakers


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