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 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 Recent political history shows that the Democratic model of continual retreat into watchful, timorous bunker mode is a losing proposition. Elizabeth Spiers, The New Republic, "Beyond Pelosi," 24 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 Yet despite her commitment to the role — and the generally fine supporting performances — this timorous tale sidesteps uncomfortable realities in favor of soothing whimsy and preordained uplift. Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times, "Review: Boldly Going Toward Independence in ‘Please Stand By’," 25 Jan. 2018 Where the smaller, plainer red-brown hens were predictable in their behavior, usually timorous and boring, Mr. Rooster was unpredictable and anything but boring. Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times, "The Rooster Attacked Me — and Yet I Loved Him," 17 May 2017 In the shoot-out, Bravo dived to his right to stop weak penalty kicks by both Quaresma and Joao Moutinho, then switched sides to save Nani’s timorous shot. Tales Azzoni, The Seattle Times, "Chile crush Portugal on penalties to reach Confed Cup final," 28 June 2017

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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Statistics for timorous

Last Updated

3 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for timorous

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on timorous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for timorous

Spanish Central: Translation of timorous

Nglish: Translation of timorous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of timorous for Arabic Speakers

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