Definition of timorous
- reproached myself with being so timorous and cautious
- —Daniel Defoe
- proceed with doubtful and timorous steps
- —Edward Gibbon
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a shy and timorous teenager
He spoke with a timorous voice.
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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").
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
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