1

kowtow

verb kow·tow \ (ˌ)kau̇-ˈtau̇ , ˈkau̇-ˌtau̇ \
Updated on: 22 Apr 2018

Definition of kowtow

1 : to show obsequious deference : fawn
  • kowtows to the boss
2 : to kneel and touch the forehead to the ground in token of homage, worship, or deep respect

kowtow was our Word of the Day on 04/24/2012. Hear the podcast!

Examples of kowtow in a Sentence

  1. you can try kowtowing to the boss, but he'll see right through you

Recent Examples of kowtow from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of kowtow

kowtow Synonyms


2

kowtow

noun

Definition of kowtow

: an act of kowtowing

Origin and Etymology of kowtow

Chinese (Beijing) kòutóu, from kòu to knock + tóu head

KOWTOW Defined for English Language Learners

kowtow

Definition of kowtow for English Language Learners

  • : to agree too easily or eagerly to do what someone else wants you to do : to obey someone with power in a way that seems weak


KOWTOW Defined for Kids

kowtow

verb kow·tow \ kau̇-ˈtau̇ , ˈkau̇-ˌtau̇ \

Definition of kowtow for Students

kowtowed; kowtowing
: to obey a person in a position of power in a way that seems weak : show overly respectful attention
  • "… don't expect me to kowtow to you, mortal, just because old Barnacle-Beard is your father."
  • —Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief


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