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[prou-is] /ˈpraʊ ɪs/
exceptional valor, bravery, or ability, especially in combat or battle.
exceptional or superior ability, skill, or strength:
his prowess as a public speaker.
a valiant or daring deed.
Origin of prowess
1250-1300; Middle English < Old French proesse, proece goodness, bravery, equivalent to prou prow2 + -esse < Latin -itia -ice
Related forms
prowessed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for prowess
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There, javelin in hand, he displayed his prowess, and none could stand against him.

  • But speedily now shall I prove him the prowess and pride of the Geats, shall bid him battle.

    Beowulf Anonymous
  • While their flocks pastured they played the flute, singing songs of love or of the prowess of their ancestors.

    Men of the Old Stone Age Henry Fairfield Osborn
  • So that at this date they regarded their prowess as invincible.

    Hellenica Xenophon
  • The first Boer war still smarted in our minds, and we knew the prowess of the indomitable burghers.

    The Great Boer War Arthur Conan Doyle
British Dictionary definitions for prowess


outstanding or superior skill or ability
bravery or fearlessness, esp in battle
Word Origin
C13: from Old French proesce, from prou good; see proud
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 prowess

late 13c., prouesse, from Old French proece "prowess, courage, brave deed" (Modern French prouesse), from prou, later variant of prud "brave, valiant," from Vulgar Latin *prodem (cf. Spanish proeza, Italian prodezza; see proud). Prow was in Middle English as a noun meaning "advantage, profit," also as a related adjective ("valiant, brave"), but it has become obsolete. "In 15-17th c. often a monosyllable" [OED].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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