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

Synonyms for cower


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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.
Recent Examples on the Web In Thom Browne’s new childrenswear campaign, photographed by Cass Bird, a pair of youths exaggeratedly cower in mock fear as an enormous dachshund is poised to leap in their direction. Vogue, 7 Apr. 2022 The house has no basement, so the occupants had nothing to do but cower and watch planes and the white, blinking, popping dots of bombs going off like fireworks in the sky. Steve Knopper, Billboard, 20 Mar. 2022 Hutter has heard stories of the mysterious Orlok, mostly from locals who cower at the mere mention of the Count’s name. Mike Postalakis, SPIN, 1 Mar. 2022 And Crewe insiders promise that the energy of the their bash inside the Mobile Civic Center will cause even The Kraken to cower. al, 6 Feb. 2022 The video from inside Oxford High School on Tuesday afternoon is chilling: Students cower together in the back of a classroom, hiding as an armed gunman rips through the halls, killing four and injuring seven others. Kristen Jordan Shamus, USA TODAY, 2 Dec. 2021 The video from inside Oxford High School on Tuesday afternoon is chilling: Students cower together in the back of a classroom, hiding as an armed gunman rips through the halls, killing four and injuring eight others. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, 1 Dec. 2021 The Deacons didn't cower when white supremacists tried to intimidate them. Javonte Anderson, USA TODAY, 10 Nov. 2021 Part of the village still functions, so anyone heading to the deserted adobe dwellings that cower in the shade of Jebel Akhdar is urged not to bother the residents. Sarah Walton, CNN, 31 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

20 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cower.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for cower


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on cower

Nglish: Translation of cower for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cower for Arabic Speakers


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