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Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective craven differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of craven are cowardly, dastardly, and pusillanimous. While all these words mean "having or showing a lack of courage," craven suggests extreme defeatism and complete lack of resistance.

secretly despised her own craven yes-men

When can cowardly be used instead of craven?

The words cowardly and craven can be used in similar contexts, but cowardly implies a weak or ignoble lack of courage.

a cowardly failure to stand up for principle

When could dastardly be used to replace craven?

Although the words dastardly and craven have much in common, dastardly often implies behavior that is both cowardly and treacherous or skulking or outrageous.

a dastardly attack on unarmed civilians

In what contexts can pusillanimous take the place of craven?

While in some cases nearly identical to craven, pusillanimous suggests a contemptible lack of courage.

the pusillanimous fear of a future full of possibility


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Cite this Entry

“Craven.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

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