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 Earl had cowered and cried, cold-hated his grandfather for a full two days. Tiphanie Yanique, The New Yorker, "God’s Caravan," 28 Oct. 2019 Would their fear of being labeled racist force them to cower and allow the confirmation, though Hill had been a credible witness? Dahleen Glanton,, "Column: Politicians are using the term lynching when they get into trouble, suggesting racially motivated killings are a thing of the past. They aren’t.," 23 Oct. 2019 Videos and photos posted on social media showed restaurant patrons cowering under tables. Washington Post, "Woman shoots 2 Israeli men to death at Mexico shopping mall," 26 July 2019 On a sunny July weekend perfect for a bike ride or the beach, many of the city’s undocumented immigrants instead cowered indoors. Anchorage Daily News, "Early Brooklyn ICE raid precedes promised White House crackdown on NYC’s undocumented, prompting outpouring of support," 14 July 2019 Video circulated on social media showed police indiscriminately beating protesters in the station and pepper spraying a group of young people cowering on a train. Los Angeles Times, "New violence erupts in Hong Kong after protesters march in defiance of police ban," 31 Aug. 2019 Our children and grandchildren will either remember us for cowering before a criminal, or for upholding the rule of law and defending the Constitution. Seth Moulton, Fortune, "Seth Moulton: Mueller Showed Us Why House Leadership Is Failing on Impeachment," 30 July 2019 Caution signs around the park signs depict an adult elk rearing up to protect its fawn, while a person cowers. Vanessa Hua,, "In praise of road trips for family vacations," 25 July 2019 No action was taken at the time, but officers said the dog cowered when Vantull came near it. Shannon Larson,, "New Britain man arrested for abusing pit bull, police say," 16 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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Statistics for cower

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for cower

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

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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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