cow·ard·ice | \ˈkau̇(-ə)r-dəs, dialectal -(ˌ)dīs\

Definition of cowardice 

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

The killing of @RisingKashmir editor, Shujaat Bukhari is an act of cowardice. Mukhtar Ahmad And Swati Gupta, CNN, "Prominent journalist gunned down in Kashmir," 14 June 2018 The cowardice of silence perpetuates injustice and anything that perpetuates evil is, by definition, also evil. Michael Harriot, The Root, "White People Are Cowards," 19 June 2018 There is no reason for this except cowardice on the part of civilian politicians far from the long strands of barbed wire. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "What's Happening at Gitmo Is a Disgrace," 8 Mar. 2018 By defending Trump's transgressions, by justifying his abuses, Republicans are creating an atmosphere in which corruption and cowardice thrive. Michael Gerson, Anchorage Daily News, "Republicans watch as Trump makes the executive branch his personal fiefdom," 6 Feb. 2018 The film follows a bourgeois family on a ski trip in the alps, only for a single moment of telling cowardice from the father to send the entire unit into a spiral of doubt, passive-aggression, and shame. Tom Philip, GQ, "Hulu Might Be the Best Movie Streaming Website," 3 May 2018 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 Using the real-life Little Rock Nine desegregation story as a model, this children’s theater show has characters that demonstrate deep-rooted insensitivities and show cowardice amid a time of progressive cultural change. Christopher Arnott,, "'Polkadots: The Cool Kid Musical' Tackles Racism At Playhouse on Park," 14 May 2018 The Republican leadership, which has already proved shocking in its cowardice, will be even less inclined to challenge him. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "Donald Trump and the Stress Test of Liberal Democracy," 13 Mar. 2017

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cowardice

Dictionary Entries near cowardice








Statistics for cowardice

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cowardice

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

Kids Definition of cowardice

: shameful fear

Keep scrolling for more

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).


not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!