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 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 Ironically, these are the very people talking about P.C. who can't stand the articulation of an unapologetic black voice that doesn't kowtow or cower to them. Washington Post, "Jay-Z is ‘Robert Frost with a Brooklyn accent,’ a Georgetown professor writes in his new book," 2 Jan. 2020 The big takeaway The parade of the rats: As humans cower inside, humbled by the deadly coronavirus, rats (including this critter in a New York City storm drain) are foraging more boldly in search of food. National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 9 Apr. 2020 Augustus was afraid of people, cowering when anyone came near. Karina Bland, azcentral, "Shelters needed people to foster pets during the crisis. The response was miraculous," 31 Mar. 2020 As officers searched the campus, students cowered in classrooms. New York Times, "Santa Clarita Gunman Dies as Investigators Struggle to Uncover Motive," 14 Nov. 2019 Abraham caused endless problems for the Wolves backline, using his pace and strength to bully the cowering defenders., "Wolves 2-5 Chelsea: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Tammy Abraham Runs Riot in Mad Molineux Encounter," 14 Sep. 2019 The group walked around me, seemingly unaffected by the reeling bridge or the cowering American. Rosemary Mcclure,, "Things to do in Vancouver: Capilano Suspension Bridge and other ways to scare yourself silly," 7 July 2019 Kristan Sterling, a math teacher at the school, said students in her classroom armed themselves with scissors, barricaded the door with a bookshelf and cowered in a corner, out of sight from a window. Max Londberg,, "'Furious': Some in CPS school thought shooter drill was real. Training update possible," 12 Feb. 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.

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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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for cower

Last Updated

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cower.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 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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