cra·​ven | \ ˈkrā-vən How to pronounce craven (audio) \

Definition of craven

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

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Other Words from craven

craven noun
cravenly adverb
cravenness \ ˈkrā-​vən-​nəs How to pronounce craven (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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'").

Examples of craven in a Sentence

a craven refusal to deliver the unwelcome news personally
Recent Examples on the Web The ugliest parts of me revel in the craven parts of him. Krista Stevens, Longreads, "Good Naked vs. Bad Naked," 13 Mar. 2021 This been a craven and desperate money grab to try to recoup some of the revenue that has been lost, in a season with no ticket sales or concessions. Ann Killion,, "Pandemic be damned, Pac-12 determined to finish farcical football season," 14 Dec. 2020 America’s primary adversary, the one that could inflict the most real damage on this country, is its own political system and the irresponsible, stupid, craven people who operate within it. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, "Would the GOP Use Trump’s Covid Diagnosis to Start a War?," 5 Oct. 2020 Until the city’s theaters and art scene rise from the coma that our craven, incompetent masters imposed willy-nilly, New York’s not New York. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Manhattan’s MoMA, Welcoming Once Again, Seven Days a Week," 16 Sep. 2020 The remaining rags-to-royalty plot restages Reddy’s craven song catalog. Armond White, National Review, "The Helen Reddy Biopic Brings Back a Self-Pitying Hit Parade," 16 Sep. 2020 The distortions of social media seemed more craven than ever. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, "The Streets of Kenosha and the National Stage," 1 Sep. 2020 Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police is perhaps the most craven and chronicled act of police brutality. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Opinion: MLB response to George Floyd killing exposes its limitations as a social institution," 4 June 2020 Ignoring dumb questions from craven idiots must violate its terms of use. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "One 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300SE, and Much More Hassle: Adventures in Used Car Sales," 7 June 2020

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.

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First Known Use of craven

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for craven

Middle English cravant

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Time Traveler for craven

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The first known use of craven was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

16 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Craven.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for craven



English Language Learners Definition of craven

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


cra·​ven | \ ˈkrā-vən How to pronounce craven (audio) \

Kids Definition of craven

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