cow·​er | \ ˈkau̇(-ə)r How to pronounce cower (audio) \
cowered; cowering; cowers

Definition of cower

intransitive verb

: to shrink away or crouch especially for shelter from something that menaces, domineers, or dismays They all cowered silently in their places, seeming to know in advance that some terrible thing was about to happen.— George Orwell

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for cower


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for cower

fawn, toady, truckle, cringe, cower mean to behave abjectly before a superior. fawn implies seeking favor by servile flattery or exaggerated attention. waiters fawning over a celebrity toady suggests the attempt to ingratiate oneself by an abjectly menial or subservient attitude. toadying to his boss truckle implies the subordination of oneself and one's desires or judgment to those of a superior. truckling to a powerful lobbyist cringe suggests a bowing or shrinking in fear or servility. a cringing sycophant cower suggests a display of abject fear in the company of threatening or domineering people. cowering before a bully

Examples of cower in a Sentence

They cowered at the sight of the gun. She was cowering in the closet. I cowered behind the door.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web However, that doesn’t diminish the business sense of taking a public stand when so many other university athletic departments seemingly cower in the shadows and wait for the inevitable to play out. Mike Berardino, Forbes, "Notre Dame, Northwestern Anticipate NIL Future In Opting Out Of Video Game Reboot," 27 Feb. 2021 Back at the truck, Jahrig and I cower in the shade, drinking water. Christine Peterson, Outdoor Life, "This Ultra-Runner Is on a Quest to Persistence-Hunt a Pronghorn," 23 Nov. 2020 Back at the truck, Jahrig and I cower in the shade, drinking water. Popular Science, "Can a hunter outrun an antelope? This ultra-marathoner is finding out.," 23 Nov. 2020 While many others who lived through the era may cower in fear at the idea of wearing low rise jeans again, Smith’s retro fashion sense has clearly struck a chord on the app. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "This TikTok Creator Is Embracing Y2K Style—Low Rise Jeans and All," 27 Sep. 2020 Nor is it governed by hypochondriacs or wusses who cower at the first sign of adversity. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Protesting parents don't get it. The Big Ten is looking out for football players' health," 21 Aug. 2020 Or a person whose boss laughs just like his abusive father may cower around that boss even if that boss is kind and gentle. Lori Gottlieb, The Atlantic, "Dear Therapist: The Pandemic Has Changed My Relationship With My Therapist," 4 May 2020 All will have stories of cowering in their flimsy houses while bombs fell, of the deadening existence of refugee camps, or of escapes through treacherous seas and perilous highways to uncertain lives in strange lands. The New York Review of Books, "Charles Glass," 7 Feb. 2019 Fans ensnared in the melee cowered underneath their blue folding seats. Laine Higgins, WSJ, "Kansas, Kansas State Players Suspended After Basketball Brawl," 22 Jan. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cower

Middle English couren, probably from Middle Low German kūren

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cower

Time Traveler for cower

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for cower

Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cower.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cower



English Language Learners Definition of cower

: to move back or bend your body down because you are afraid


cow·​er | \ ˈkau̇-ər How to pronounce cower (audio) \
cowered; cowering

Kids Definition of cower

: to shrink away or crouch down shivering (as from fear) The thunder made our dog cower.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on cower

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cower

Nglish: Translation of cower for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cower for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cower

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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