Word of the DayFriday, June 11, 2010
\KOU-TOU\ , verb;
To act in an obsequious manner; show servile deference.
To touch the forehead to the ground while kneeling, as an act of worship, reverence, apology, etc., especially in former Chinese custom.
Mei-hua was sitting nearby, and though she could not understand the English words she understood what was happening. She murmured that her daughter should kowtow.
-- Beverly Swerling, City of God
It's a new one for Morrison to meet a girl who doesn't kowtow. He's a very great personage in his line, and he can't help knowing it.
-- Dorothy Canfield, The Bent Twig
Kowtow comes from the Chinese practice of touching the ground with your forehead to show respect, called k'o t'ou. It literally means "to knock the head."
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