bow

1 of 5

verb (1)

bowed; bowing; bows

intransitive verb

1
: to cease from competition or resistance : submit, yield
refusing to bow to the inevitableJohn O'Hara
also : to suffer defeat
bowed to the champion
2
: to bend the head, body, or knee in reverence, submission, or shame
Bow before the king.
bowed her head in shame
3
: to incline the head or body in salutation or assent or to acknowledge applause
bowing to the audience
4
: debut
the play will bow next month

transitive verb

1
: to cause to incline
wind bowing the treetops
2
: to incline especially in respect or submission
bow their heads in prayer
3
: to crush with a heavy burden
whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave Shakespeare
4
a
: to express by bending the head, body, or knee : to express by bowing
bowing his appreciation
b
: to usher in or out with a bow (see bow entry 2)

bow

2 of 5

noun (1)

: a bending of the head or body in respect, submission, assent, or salutation
also : a show of respect or submission
smiled and gave a bow

bow

3 of 5

noun (2)

1
a
: something bent into a simple curve or arc
b
2
: a weapon that is used to propel an arrow and that is made of a strip of flexible material (such as wood) with a cord connecting the two ends and holding the strip bent
hunting with bow and arrow
3
: archer
4
a
: a metal ring or loop forming a handle (as of a key)
b
: a knot formed by doubling a ribbon or string into two or more loops
d
: a frame for the lenses of eyeglasses
also : the sidepiece of the frame passing over the ear
5
music
a
: a wooden rod with horsehairs stretched from end to end used in playing an instrument of the viol or violin family
b
: a stroke of such a bow
on the up bow

bow

4 of 5

verb (2)

bowed; bowing; bows

intransitive verb

1
: to bend into a curve
the wall bows a little
2
music : to play a stringed instrument with a bow (see bow entry 3 sense 5a)

transitive verb

1
: to cause to bend into a curve
Years of riding had bowed his legs.
2
music : to play (a stringed instrument) with a bow
bowing the strings

bow

5 of 5

noun (3)

1
nautical : the forward part of a ship
often used in plural
crossing the bows
2
nautical : bowman entry 2

Examples of bow in a Sentence

Verb (1) finally bowed to the judge's insistence that she change her outfit bowed to the craving for fresh coffee Noun (2) her full lips form a pair of perfect bows Verb (2) the river bows gently to the north before it reaches the sea you'll have to gently bow the strip of wood in order to fit it in
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
While bowing to consumer backlash might seem like the safest strategy to claw back revenue lost in a boycott, it can also be shortsighted. Eva Rothenberg, CNN, 29 June 2024 Since leaving the White House led by husband President Bill Clinton, and losing her own presidential bid to Donald Trump in 2016, the former U.S. Secretary of State had a four-part Hulu documentary, Hillary, made about her life and which bowed at Sundance. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 June 2024
Noun
Also in the top 10 of the latest Billboard 200, Gracie Abrams lands her first top 10-charting set and best week ever by units, as The Secret of Us bows at No. 2. Keith Caulfield, Billboard, 30 June 2024 Ted was on his knees in the bow, rattling around in his lures and looking for one of the same color as that which had been so rudely smashed off the end of his line. Charles Elliott, Outdoor Life, 27 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for bow 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bow.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb (1) and Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English būgan; akin to Old High German biogan to bend, Sanskrit bhujati he bends

Noun (2) and Verb (2)

Middle English bowe, from Old English boga; akin to Old English būgan

Noun (3)

Middle English bowe, bowgh, probably from Middle Dutch boech bow, shoulder; akin to Old English bōg bough

First Known Use

Verb (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun (1)

circa 1656, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun (3)

1626, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bow was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near bow

Cite this Entry

“Bow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bow. Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

bow

1 of 5 verb
1
: to bend the head, body, or knee in greeting, respect, agreement, or obedience
2
: yield entry 1 sense 5
bow to authority
3
: bend entry 1 sense 6
bowed with age
4
: to express by bowing
bow one's thanks

bow

2 of 5 noun
: a bending of the head or body expressing respect, agreement, obedience, or greeting

bow

3 of 5 noun
1
2
: a weapon used for shooting arrows that is usually made of a strip of wood bent by a cord connecting the two ends
3
: something that is curved like a bow
4
: a wooden rod with horsehairs stretched from end to end used for playing a violin or similar instrument
5
: a knot made with two or more loops
tie the ribbon in a bow

bow

4 of 5 verb
1
: to bend into a curve
2
: to play a stringed instrument with a bow

bow

5 of 5 noun
: the forward part of a ship
Etymology

Verb

Middle English bowen "to bend, yield," from Old English būgan "to bend in obedience"

Noun

Middle English bowe "something curved," from Old English boga (same meaning)

Noun

Middle English bowe (same meaning), probably from early Dutch boech "bow, shoulder"

Medical Definition

bow

noun
: a frame for the lenses of eyeglasses
also : the curved sidepiece of the frame passing over the ear

Geographical Definition

Bow

geographical name

river 315 miles (507 kilometers) long in southwestern Alberta, Canada, rising in Banff National Park

More from Merriam-Webster on bow

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