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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 Warren was able to leapfrog the traditional résumé demands of statewide candidates via inadvertent boosts from both a timorous Barack Obama and the most inept Democratic Senate candidate in recent memory. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Arguing the World," 15 Aug. 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 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about timorous

Listen to Our Podcast about timorous

Dictionary Entries near timorous








Statistics for timorous

Last Updated

28 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for timorous

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on timorous

What made you want to look up timorous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


transposition of initial sounds of words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Word Puzzles

  • alt 57589b2b4c6a3
  • Which answer pairs best with each of the following words? living, estate, club, music, road, mile
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!