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


cringe, grovel, quail

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

For as long as 45 minutes after the shooting stopped, some students were still cowering behind locked doors, unsure if the person banging on their door was a police officer or the gunman, according to students. Alan Blinder, Patricia Mazzei And Richard A. Oppel Jr., New York Times, "In School Shooting’s Painful Aftermath, Sheriff Faces Questions Over Police Response," 21 Feb. 2018 The flesh-people cower in bubble-homes, controlled by Central Whip and culled en masse in Joy Stadiums. Tom Shippey, WSJ, "Science Fiction: Rediscovering a Golden-Age Treasure," 28 Dec. 2018 People cowered from contact with anyone who might carry the disease. Ashley Halsey Iii, Washington Post, "The flu can kill tens of millions of people. In 1918, that’s exactly what it did.," 27 Jan. 2018 As a result the defense was stronger than just about anything that could be thrown against it, so much so that infantrymen spent most of their time cowering in trenches and bunkers. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "100 Years Ago Today, Tanks Changed Warfare Forever," 15 Sep. 2016 Overwhelmingly white and male, these people are purporting to cower in fear before the rare African-American woman in the administration (Kellyanne Conway just struggled to name a high-ranking African-American member of Trump’s West Wing staff). Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Omarosa May Be Ridiculous, But She’s Not a “Terror”," 13 Aug. 2018 Coffman has demonstrated both independence and political fortitude in refusing to cower in the face of the demands of the Big Telecom lobby, instead siding with those he was elected to serve. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Bill to save net neutrality gets first Republican vote in US House," 17 July 2018 Cece high-fives and hugs them while Lids literally cowers in a corner. Annemarie Conte, Woman's Day, "Here's What Happens When a Non-Disney Family Visits Disney World," 7 Nov. 2017 The entire chain of events — from the first crashing of the glass doors to the removal of a suspect by the authorities — lasted only minutes, but left five newspaper employees dead and others cowering beneath desks. New York Times, "Gunman’s Rampage Turned Quiet Newsroom Into Chaos," 29 June 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near cower







Cow Fulani

Statistics for cower

Last Updated

2 May 2019

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Time Traveler for cower

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

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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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on cower

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cower

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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