1 [bou-er]
a leafy shelter or recess; arbor.
a rustic dwelling; cottage.
a lady's boudoir in a medieval castle.
verb (used with object)
to enclose in or as in a bower; embower.

before 900; Middle English bour, Old English būr chamber; cognate with Old Norse būr pantry, German Bauer birdcage; akin to neighbor

bowerlike, adjective Unabridged


2 [bou-er] ,
noun Nautical.
an anchor carried at a ship's bow.
Also called bower anchor.

1645–55; bow3 + -er1


3 [bou-er] ,
a person or thing that bows or bends.

1590–1600; bow1 + -er1


4 [boh-er] ,
noun Music.
a musician, as a violinist, who performs with a bow on a stringed instrument.

1400–50; late Middle English; see bow2, -er1


2 [boh]
a flexible strip of wood or other material, bent by a string stretched between its ends, for shooting arrows: He drew the bow and sent the arrow to its target.
an instrument resembling this, used for various purposes, as rotating a drill or spindle, or loosening entangled or matted fibers.
a bend or curve.
Also called bowknot. a looped knot composed of two or more loops and two ends, as for tying together the ends of a ribbon or string.
any separate piece of looped, knotted, or shaped gathering of ribbon, cloth, paper, etc., used as a decoration, as on a package, dress, or the like.
a long rod, originally curved but now nearly straight, with horsehairs stretched from one end to the other, used for playing on a musical instrument of the violin and viol families.
a single movement of such a device over the strings of a violin, viol, or the like.
something curved or arc-shaped.
a saddlebow.
an archer; bowman: He is the best bow in the county.
temple2 ( def 3 ).
a U -shaped piece for placing under an animal's neck to hold a yoke.
Building Trades. a flexible rod used for laying out large curves.
the part of a key grasped by the fingers.
the loop on the stem of a watch by which the watch is attached to a chain or the like.
a rainbow.
curved outward at the center; bent: bow legs.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
to bend into the form of a bow; curve.
Music. to perform by means of a bow upon a stringed instrument.
Textiles Obsolete. to loosen by passing a vibrating bow among entangled fibers.

before 1000; Middle English bowe (noun), Old English boga; cognate with Dutch boog, German Bogen, Old Norse bogi; akin to bow1

bowedness, noun
bowless, adjective
bowlike, adjective


3 [bou]
Nautical, Aeronautics.
the forward end of a vessel or airship.
either side of this forward end, especially with reference to the direction of a distant object: a mooring two points off the port bow.
bows, Nautical. the exterior of the forward end of a vessel, especially one in which the hull slopes back on both sides of the stem.
the foremost oar in rowing a boat.
Also called bowman, bow oar. the person who pulls that oar.
of or pertaining to the bow of a ship.
bows on, (of a ship) with the bow foremost: The vessel approached us bows on.
bows under, (of a ship) shipping water at the bow: The ship was bows under during most of the storm.
on the bow, Nautical. within 45° to the heading of the vessel.

1620–30; < Low German boog (noun) or Dutch boeg or Danish bov; see bough Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
bow1 (baʊ)
vb (usually foll by down)
1.  to lower (one's head) or bend (one's knee or body) as a sign of respect, greeting, assent, or shame
2.  to bend or cause to bend; incline downwards
3.  (intr; usually foll by to or before) to comply or accept: bow to the inevitable
4.  (tr; foll by in, out, to etc) to usher (someone) into or out of a place with bows and deference: the manager bowed us to our car
5.  to bring (a person, nation, etc) to a state of submission
6.  bow and scrape to behave in an excessively deferential or obsequious way
7.  a lowering or inclination of the head or body as a mark of respect, greeting, or assent
8.  take a bow to acknowledge or receive applause or praise
[Old English būgan, related to Old Norse bjūgr bent, Old High German biogan to bend, Dutch buigen]

bow2 (bəʊ)
1.  See also crossbow a weapon for shooting arrows, consisting of an arch of flexible wood, plastic, metal, etc bent by a string (bowstring) fastened at each end
2.  a.  a long slightly curved stick across which are stretched strands of horsehair, used for playing the strings of a violin, viola, cello, or related instrument
 b.  a stroke with such a stick
3.  a.  a decorative interlacing of ribbon or other fabrics, usually having two loops and two loose ends
 b.  the knot forming such an interlacing; bowknot
4.  a.  something that is curved, bent, or arched
 b.  (in combination): rainbow; oxbow; saddlebow
5.  a person who uses a bow and arrow; archer
6.  (US)
 a.  a frame of a pair of spectacles
 b.  a sidepiece of the frame of a pair of spectacles that curls round behind the ear
7.  a metal ring forming the handle of a pair of scissors or of a large old-fashioned key
8.  architect See also bow window part of a building curved in the form of a bow
9.  to form or cause to form a curve or curves
10.  to make strokes of a bow across (violin strings)
[Old English boga arch, bow; related to Old Norse bogi a bow, Old High German bogo, Old Irish bocc, and bow1]

bow3 (baʊ)
1.  chiefly nautical
 a.  (often plural) the forward end or part of a vessel
 b.  (as modifier): the bow mooring line
2.  rowing short for bowman
3.  nautical on the port bow within 45 degrees to the port of straight ahead
4.  nautical on the starboard bow within 45 degrees to the starboard of straight ahead
5.  informal a shot across someone's bows a warning
[C15: probably from Low German boog; related to Dutch boeg, Danish bov ship's bow, shoulder; see bough]

Bow (bəʊ)
Clara, known as the It Girl. 1905--65, US film actress, noted for her vivacity and sex appeal

bower1 (ˈbaʊə)
1.  a shady leafy shelter or recess, as in a wood or garden; arbour
2.  literary a lady's bedroom or apartments, esp in a medieval castle; boudoir
3.  literary a country cottage, esp one regarded as charming or picturesque
[Old English būr dwelling; related to Old Norse būr pantry, Old High German būr dwelling]

bower2 (ˈbaʊə)
nautical a vessel's bow anchor
[C18: from bow³ + -er1]

bower3 (ˈbaʊə)
a jack in euchre and similar card games
[C19: from German Bauer peasant, jack (in cards)]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. bugan "to bend, to bow down, to bend the body in condescension," also "to turn back" (class II strong verb; past tense beag, pp. bogen), from P.Gmc. *bugon (cf. Du. buigen, M.L.G. bugen, O.H.G. biogan, Ger. biegen, Goth. biugan "to bend," O.N. boginn "bent"), from *beugen, from PIE base *bheugh-
(cf. Skt. bhujati "bends, thrusts aside"). The noun is first recorded 1650s. Bow out "withdraw" is from 1942.

weapon for shooting arrows, O.E. boga "archery bow, arch, rainbow," from P.Gmc. *bugon (cf. O.N. bogi, O.Fris. boga, Du. boog, Ger. Bogen "bow;" see bow (v.)). The sense of "a looped knot" is from 1540s. The musician's bow (1570s) formerly was curved like the archer's. Bowlegged
is attested from 1550s.

"front of a ship," mid-14c., from O.N. bogr or M.Du. boech "bow of a ship," lit. "shoulder (of an animal)," the connecting notion being "the shoulders of the ship." See bough.

O.E. bur "room, hut, dwelling, chamber," from P.Gmc. *buraz (cf. O.N. bur "chamber," Swed. bur "cage," O.H.G. bur "dwelling, chamber," Ger. Bauer "birdcage"), from base *bu- "to dwell," from PIE base *bheue- "to be, exist, dwell" (see be). Modern spelling developed after mid-14c.
Sense of "leafy arbor" (place closed in by trees) is first attested 1520s. Hence, too, Australia's bower-bird (1847).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
bag of waters (the amniotic sac in pregnancy)
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Bow definition

The bow was in use in early times both in war and in the chase (Gen. 21:20; 27:3; 48:22). The tribe of Benjamin were famous for the use of the bow (1 Chr. 8:40; 12:2; 2 Chr. 14:8; 17:17); so also were the Elamites (Isa. 22:6) and the Lydians (Jer. 46:9). The Hebrew word commonly used for bow means properly to tread (1 Chr. 5:18; 8:40), and hence it is concluded that the foot was employed in bending the bow. Bows of steel (correctly "copper") are mentioned (2 Sam. 22:35; Ps. 18:34). The arrows were carried in a quiver (Gen. 27:3; Isa. 22:6; 49:2; Ps. 127:5). They were apparently sometimes shot with some burning material attached to them (Ps. 120:4). The bow is a symbol of victory (Ps. 7:12). It denotes also falsehood, deceit (Ps. 64:3, 4; Hos. 7:16; Jer. 9:3). "The use of the bow" in 2 Sam. 1:18 (A.V.) ought to be "the song of the bow," as in the Revised Version.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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