9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[kou-er] /ˈkaʊ ər/
verb (used without object)
to crouch, as in fear or shame.
Origin of cower
1250-1300; Middle English couren; cognate with Norwegian, Swedish kūra, Middle Low German kūren, German kauern
Related forms
coweringly, adverb
cringe, recoil, flinch, quail. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cowering
  • Both houses appear to be cowering before the rich and powerful liquor lobby.
  • Yet those expecting private-equity executives to be cowering in fear of retribution will be disappointed.
  • Presiding over the cowering crowd was a fat police commander with a thick mustache and pocked face.
  • Their betrayal cut so deep that it has left me anxious and cowering to this day.
  • But many of the delegates spent their time cowering in the conference centre.
  • He will go and hide, in a cowering position, behind the toilet.
  • Students were dropping from upper-story windows, cowering under desks, scrambling for cover or freezing where they stood.
  • There is an element of cowering before angry voters.
  • One day, he finds a madwoman cowering behind his house.
  • He is surrounded by more figures tied to poles, and others cowering on the ground.
British Dictionary definitions for cowering


(intransitive) to crouch or cringe, as in fear
Word Origin
C13: from Middle Low German kūren to lie in wait; related to Swedish kura to lie in wait, Danish kure to squat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cowering



c.1300, probably from Middle Low German *kuren "lie in wait" (Modern German kauern), or similar Scandinavian words meaning "to squat" and "to doze" (e.g. Old Norse kura, Danish, Norwegian kure, Swedish kura). Thus unrelated to coward. Related: Cowered; cowering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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