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

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Synonyms for cower


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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Ha-won reminds her cowering adversary just how many people are driving around South Korea in that moment working to keep affluent customers happy. Ariana Romero,, "You Can See More Of," 11 Feb. 2020 The text is almost too sweet: Greta Thunberg refuses to cower as the tempest seethes around her. Jason Parham, Wired, "Depth of Field: Greta Thunberg Takes on the World," 13 Dec. 2019 The next day, a neighbor 4 miles away from Lunon's home near Arch Street and Dixon Road found the pup cowering in his garage and called the sheriff's office, which dispatched an animal-control officer. Linda Satter, Arkansas Online, "Court overturns lost-dog ruling," 29 Dec. 2019 No one knows how many chimpanzees lurk or cower in the Muhororo forest remnants (maybe 20, maybe fewer?) or where their next unfortunate conflict with humans may occur. David Quammen, National Geographic, "‘I am scared all the time’: Chimps and people are clashing in rural Uganda," 8 Nov. 2019 Watching Rick cower in fear, Daryl be tortured, Aaron (Ross Marquand) get the crap beaten out of him, and everyone generally just be miserable was tough to take for a prolonged period of time. Dalton Ross,, "The Walking Dead is having a creative renaissance," 6 Nov. 2019 Some residents escaped through windows, others cowered in closets. Ray Sanchez, CNN, "Mexican soldiers ordered son of 'El Chapo' to call cartel to stop attacks on them, video shows," 31 Oct. 2019 The more conservatives who cower in fear and capitulate to intimidation, the more dangerous the situation will be for those who do courageously bear witness. Christopher Tremoglie, National Review, "Conservatives Need Courage," 12 Aug. 2019 Her main concern, though, was that Democrats were cowering from the issue; in political terms, not to mention moral ones, this struck her as a missed opportunity. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, "The Democrats’ Immigration Problem Is Bigger Than Donald Trump," 25 July 2019

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.

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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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Time Traveler for cower

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

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Statistics for cower

Last Updated

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cower.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for cower


How to pronounce cower (audio)

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on cower

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cower

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cower

Spanish Central: Translation of cower

Nglish: Translation of cower for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cower for Arabic Speakers

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