craven

adjective cra·ven \ ˈkrā-vən \

Definition of craven

1 archaic :defeated, vanquished
2 :lacking the least bit of courage :contemptibly fainthearted
  • craven mercenaries who would not fight …
  • —Thomas Fleming

craven

noun

cravenly

adverb

cravenness

play \ˈkrā-vən-nəs\ noun

craven was our Word of the Day on 12/17/2007. Hear the podcast!

Examples of craven in a Sentence

  1. a craven refusal to deliver the unwelcome news personally

Recent Examples of craven from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'craven.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Craven and its synonyms "dastardly" and "pusillanimous" are all basically fancy words for "cowardly." Don't be afraid to use them - here's a little information to help you recognize the subtle distinctions in their connotations. "Craven" suggests extreme defeatism and complete lack of resistance. One might speak of "craven yes-men." "Dastardly" often implies behavior that is both cowardly and treacherous or skulking or outrageous, as in this example: "a dastardly attack on unarmed civilians." "Pusillanimous" suggests a contemptible lack of courage (e.g., "After the attack, one editorialist characterized the witnesses as 'the pusillanimous bystanders'").

Origin and Etymology of craven

Middle English cravant

Synonym Discussion of craven

cowardly, pusillanimous, craven, dastardly mean having or showing a lack of courage. cowardly implies a weak or ignoble lack of courage.
    • a cowardly failure to stand up for principle
pusillanimous suggests a contemptible lack of courage.
    • the pusillanimous fear of a future full of possibility
craven suggests extreme defeatism and complete lack of resistance.
    • secretly despised her own craven yes-men
dastardly often implies behavior that is both cowardly and treacherous or skulking or outrageous.
    • a dastardly attack on unarmed civilians

CRAVEN Defined for English Language Learners

craven

adjective

Definition of craven for English Language Learners

  • : having or showing a complete lack of courage : very cowardly


CRAVEN Defined for Kids

craven

adjective cra·ven \ ˈkrā-vən \

Definition of craven for Students



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