cow·​ard·​ly | \ ˈkau̇(-ə)rd-lē How to pronounce cowardly (audio) \

Definition of cowardly

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: in a cowardly manner



Definition of cowardly (Entry 2 of 2)

: being, resembling, or befitting a coward a cowardly retreat

Other Words from cowardly


cowardliness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for cowardly


cowardly, pusillanimous, craven, dastardly mean having or showing a lack of courage. cowardly implies a weak or ignoble lack of courage. a cowardly failure to stand up for principle pusillanimous suggests a contemptible lack of courage. the pusillanimous fear of a future full of possibility craven suggests extreme defeatism and complete lack of resistance. secretly despised her own craven yes-men dastardly often implies behavior that is both cowardly and treacherous or skulking or outrageous. a dastardly attack on unarmed civilians

Examples of cowardly in a Sentence

Adjective He insisted on avoiding a cowardly retreat. She made a cowardly decision to go along with the group. a cowardly attack from behind
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb But his slow start and cowardly late-game decision are both huge blemishes on his record. Rob Reischel, Forbes, 6 July 2022 What is the latest on what is clearly a very [00:27:00] cowardly act by the. Laura Johnston, cleveland, 7 June 2022 His captivating Teach is the hair-trigger-tempered, cowardly bull in Donny’s cluttered shop — where the characters are as much discards as the bric-a-brac. Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2022 Striking Yuri Gagarin from the Space Foundation’s fundraiser is idiocy, and a direct result of a twitchy, cowardly culture that topples statues and erases dead authors for their failure to align precisely with the mores of the moment. James Lileks, National Review, 31 Mar. 2022 Gawain can be naïve, selfish, and occasionally cowardly, but his wide-eyed tenacity and resourcefulness shine through, and Patel transforms his hero from a bygone legend on a page into something desperately human. Devan Coggan,, 15 Mar. 2022 The bullying Sanhedrin constables, led by a pricelessly cowardly Jared Loftin, are all about keeping the oppressed in line. Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2022 Ebert likely also would have approved of the number of fruit carts overturned while Boba’s new crew chases the mayor’s cowardly majordomo through Mos Espa. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 12 Jan. 2022 Clumsy, swaggering, disarming, stupid, cowardly or naive; ill-intentioned, unaware, incapable or uncaring. Anna Zanardi Cappon, Forbes, 28 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Darkness is spreading courtesy of cowardly leaders fearful of truth. John Byrne, Chicago Tribune, 23 June 2022 Derby Dinner Playhouse presents one of MGM’s grandest and most beloved musicals featuring Dorothy, Toto, the Wicked Witch, Scarecrow, Tin Man and the cowardly Lion. The Courier-Journal, 15 July 2022 Then, as the device began narrating a scene of the cowardly lion begging for courage, Alexa’s robotic twang was replaced by a more human-sounding narrator. María Luisa Paúl, Washington Post, 23 June 2022 The Bruins continue to insult their loyal fan base with skull-imploding logic (why is Bruce Cassidy fired while Don Sweeney stays?) and cowardly news dumps. Globe Staff,, 17 June 2022 The Darkness is spreading courtesy of cowardly leaders fearful of truth. John Byrne, Chicago Tribune, 23 June 2022 The Darkness is spreading courtesy of cowardly leaders fearful of truth. Mark Murray, NBC News, 21 June 2022 Children and teachers were murdered in a cowardly attack in their Texas school. Roxana Saberi, CBS News, 26 May 2022 Obviously, these Stormtroopers and their cowardly confidante are no match for our Jedi master, so the fight doesn't last very long. Evan Romano, Men's Health, 1 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cowardly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of cowardly


14th century, in the meaning defined above


1551, in the meaning defined above

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

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Last Updated

26 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cowardly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for cowardly


cow·​ard·​ly | \ ˈkau̇-ərd-lē How to pronounce cowardly (audio) \

Kids Definition of cowardly

1 : shamefully fearful a cowardly traitor
2 : showing shameful fear Then he … said how hard-hearted and cowardly it was to hurt the weak …— Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

Other Words from cowardly

cowardliness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on cowardly

Nglish: Translation of cowardly for Spanish Speakers


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