follow Dictionary.com

Get the details behind our redesign

kowtow

[kou-tou, -tou, koh-] /ˈkaʊˈtaʊ, -ˌtaʊ, ˈkoʊ-/
verb (used without object)
1.
to act in an obsequious manner; show servile deference.
2.
to touch the forehead to the ground while kneeling, as an act of worship, reverence, apology, etc., especially in former Chinese custom.
noun
3.
the act of kowtowing.
Also, kotow.
Origin
1795-1805
1795-1805; < Chinese kòutóu literally, knock (one's) head
Related forms
kowtower, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
British Dictionary definitions for kowtower

kowtow

/ˌkaʊˈtaʊ/
verb (intransitive)
1.
to touch the forehead to the ground as a sign of deference: a former Chinese custom
2.
(often foll by to) to be servile or obsequious (towards)
noun
3.
the act of kowtowing
Derived Forms
kowtower, noun
Word Origin
C19: from Chinese k'o t'ou, from k'o to strike, knock + t'ou head
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for kowtower
kowtow
1804 (n.), from Chinese k'o-t'ou custom of touching the ground with the forehead to show respect or submission, lit. "knock the head," from k'o "knock, bump" + t'ou "head." The verb in the fig. sense of "act in an obsequious manner" is from 1826.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of The Day

Difficulty index for kowtow

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for kowtower

18
18
Scrabble Words With Friends