Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To cringe in fear.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To crouch or cringe in fear.
  • v. To cherish with care.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To stoop by bending the knees; to crouch; to squat; hence, to quail; to sink through fear.
  • transitive v. To cherish with care.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To sink by bending the knees; crouch: squat: stoop or sink downward, especially in fear or shame.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. show submission or fear
  • v. crouch or curl up

Etymologies

Middle English couren, of Scandinavian origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle Low German kuren or from Scandinavian (Icelandic kúra ("to doze")). Compare German kauern ("to squat"). Unrelated to coward, which is of Latin origin. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Van Gundy has hinted how he might react to an Orlando title, saying he might "cower" in a "fetal position."

    Don't expect a neutral voice from Jeff Van Gundy during NBA Finals

  • So Wright's opinions didn't change but Obama's of Wright did ... did Obama's view of America change (cuz that would allow for the change of heart on Wright) or did he "cower" in the face of falling poll numbers?

    Nader To Obama: You Want To Talk White?

  • Its meaning in that context is "To draw back instinctively, as from something alarming" but because of the other meanings, there's also a feel or image of a person making himself smaller in fear, which gets us back to "cower" or "cringe."

    Word Choice

  • He warned that "the mistakes of 2002 are being repeated," meaning, he said, that Democrats should never again "cower" before Bush on security issues, as so many at the grass roots saw them doing before the 2002 elections.

    Firedoglake » I’d Be Happy, Too

  • VIDEO: * Senator* Obama expresses support for KSM military tribunal Democrat theme of the week: "Let's not 'cower' over KSM civilian trial"

    Sister Toldjah

  • Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday fought back against criticism that trying accused Sept. 11 terrorists in New York City poses a risk, saying that U.S. courts have safely tried terrorists, and that Americans should not "cower" in anticipation of the trials.

    NPR Topics: News

  • Paul does not mean that a wife must cower in the presence of her husband.

    American Grace

  • My heart seemed to cower in my chest as I waited for him to drop his bombshell.

    Raven

  • I would walk right up to them and that shocked them—I guess they thought that a fat person would rather cower behind a buffet than be confrontational about their rudeness.

    Roseanne Archy

  • And he insisted that the bombing shouldn't make foreign investors cower in fear either.

    Medvedev: Attack Won't Crush Russia

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