tim·​o·​rous | \ ˈti-mə-rəs How to pronounce timorous (audio) , ˈtim-rəs \

Definition of timorous

1 : of a timid disposition : fearful reproached myself with being so timorous and cautious— Daniel Defoe
2 : expressing or suggesting timidity proceed with doubtful and timorous steps— Edward Gibbon

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Other Words from timorous

timorously adverb
timorousness noun

Did You Know?

Timid and timorous don't just have similar spellings and meanings; they are etymologically related as well. Both words ultimately derive from the Latin verb timēre, meaning "to fear." The immediate ancestor of timid is Latin timidus (same meaning as timid), whereas timorous traveled to Middle English by way of the Latin noun timor ("fear") and the Medieval Latin adjective timorosus. Timid may be the more common of the two words, but timorous is older. It first appeared in English in the mid-15th century; timid came on the scene a century later. Both words can mean "easily frightened" (as in "a timid mouse" or "a timorous child") as well as "indicating or characterized by fear" (as in "he gave a timid smile" or "she took a timorous step forward").

Examples of timorous in a Sentence

a shy and timorous teenager He spoke with a timorous voice.
Recent Examples on the Web The trick for Biden and the Democrats is to welcome timorous conservatives like Sasse back to the world of defenders of democracy without demanding humiliating public confessions from them. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "The Case for Biden to Muddle Through America’s Political Crisis," 28 Dec. 2020 Powell, who has repeatedly told the president that his aides are too timorous and should be taking stronger steps, has taken some of her criticism public since the meeting. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump turns to fringe element in election fight," 22 Dec. 2020 All artists, even those who appear to be timorous, quavering messes, have a core of steel. David Salle, The New York Review of Books, "Object Lessons," 1 Dec. 2020 Hell-raiser Gloriosa decides the Madonna’s Western features aren’t Hutu enough and involves her timorous follower Modesta (Belinda Rubango) in a raid to broaden her nose. Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Our Lady of the Nile' ('Notre-Dame du Nil'): Film Review | TIFF 2019," 14 Sep. 2019 The clash of egos in the struggle to achieve something bracingly innovative wasn’t for the timorous. Los Angeles Times, "Appreciation: From ‘Cabaret’ to ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ Hal Prince made the musical modern," 31 July 2019 Yet something about their emotional makeup allowed Reichl and Levine to muddle through circumstances that would have felled more timorous souls. Washington Post, "From Gourmet to Serious Eats, two food memoirs chronicle the pitfalls of old and new media," 11 June 2019 The singer's timorous, tuneless falsetto convinced me to put in a bid, but somebody else won the auction for $113.61. Leor Galil, Chicago Reader, "Alexa Viscius of Bunny on a bass-playing hero who makes perfect posters," 27 June 2018 Boston didn’t so much guard James as stalk him, and without the timorous doomstruck look that had hung over Toronto every time James got the ball. Charles P. Pierce, SI.com, "Marcus Smart Continues to Give the Celtics Exactly What They Need," 14 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'timorous.' 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 timorous

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for timorous

Middle English, from Medieval Latin timorosus, from Latin timor fear, from timēre to fear

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Time Traveler for timorous

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The first known use of timorous was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Timorous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/timorous. Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for timorous



English Language Learners Definition of timorous

formal : easily frightened


tim·​o·​rous | \ ˈti-mə-rəs How to pronounce timorous (audio) \

Kids Definition of timorous

: easily frightened : fearful

Other Words from timorous

timorously adverb

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