Main definitions of bow in English

: bow1bow2bow3

bow1

noun

  • 1A knot tied with two loops and two loose ends, used especially for tying shoelaces and decorative ribbons.

    ‘a girl with long hair tied back in a bow’
    • ‘I picked up a wide blue ribbon, wound it around the ponytail, and tied it in a bow.’
    • ‘I tied it in a bow around the stem of the flower, and gently stroked the soft fabric before letting my feet carry me downstairs again.’
    • ‘I waited until the puppies were weaned then I tied red bows around their necks, put them in a box and headed to Mrs. Rooney's home.’
    • ‘At the base of the triangle made by her stomacher, and foregrounded by a white ribbon tied in a bow, hangs an emblem of the Queen's chastity.’
    • ‘Hanging on a branch of the biggest pine are my socks, neatly tied in a bow, waiting to be discovered.’
    • ‘Bundle the sticks together with raffia ending in a bow at the top, secure with glue if needed.’
    • ‘Next cut a length of narrow holiday ribbon to tie in a bow for the top of the package.’
    • ‘Also, his conversation with his Dad at the end felt a little too scripted and all wrapped up in a bow, I think.’
    • ‘I love the little cream silk ribbon tied in a bow on the door handle to my bathroom.’
    • ‘After your child completes several cards, stack and lace them together through the eyelets on the left edge to form a book, tying the ribbon ends in a bow.’
    • ‘He looks very jaunty, hands on hips, his cap pushed back on his head and his cap ribbon tied in a bow.’
    • ‘I tied it in a bow and wore it as a belt around my waist.’
    • ‘Pat was wearing a black spandex, long sleeved shirt with a thin thread tied in a bow, slipped in between two tiny holes underneath the neckline.’
    • ‘It was covered in black velvet with a blood red rose embroidered on the front and a ribbon of the same colour as the rose tied in a bow at the top.’
    • ‘Gather the ribbon ends (make sure all are equal in length) and tie in a bow.’
    • ‘Tie the red ribbon in a bow and stitch in place through the center knot, referring to the photo for placement.’
    • ‘She wore a light blue dress with a white apron, and a ribbon, tied in a bow to match the color of her dress, hung gracefully in her hair.’
    • ‘Tie the very ends of the ribbon together in bow or knot, to form a loop by which to hang the bag.’
    • ‘I also had on black three-inch heels with straps that criss-crossed around my ankle and tied in a bow in the back.’
    • ‘He did these beautiful bead necklaces on a piece of fabric that tied in a bow in the back.’
    • ‘On it lay a single purple ribbon tied in a bow: a hairpiece for a little girl.’
    loop, knot
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A decorative ribbon tied in a bow.
      • ‘Her two sisters' maid dresses are not as troublesome as hers due to the fact that theirs are plain and hers is full of decorations such as beads, ribbons and bows.’
      • ‘The crowd whooped and cheered when Sliwa bedecked the hood ornament of the mayor's Lincoln with a big yellow bow.’
      • ‘Decorate with raffia bows, evergreen snippets, or labels made from old holiday cards.’
      • ‘One girl wore a brash pink silk dress, decorated with a giant bow.’
      • ‘Don't buy expensive ribbons and bows to decorate your packages, if you hunt around you can find the cheap stuff that will be just as pretty!’
      • ‘Though the present is beautifully wrapped with bows and ribbons and shiny paper it is filled with a scratchy sweater with reindeer on the front.’
      • ‘Becki ran her hands through her hair and found that the fairies had tied ribbons and bows into it while she slept.’
      • ‘Stiff and wooden perhaps, but there are always tiny surprises in Goya's portraits - like the little red bow tied to the dog's back leg.’
      • ‘From all appearances, it looks like walking papers, all tied up in a big red bow!’
      • ‘She may also be wearing a small yellow ring decorated with bows.’
      • ‘Eyeing up some jewellery, Mabel notices a necklace covered in bows.’
      • ‘Montgomery also will put up as many as six Christmas trees and decorate them with bows, ornaments and small photo frames.’
      • ‘Attached to the roses was her engagement ring, secured using the ribbon from the gold bow.’
      • ‘Those are now hung to dry in the woodshed until it is time to bring them indoors, and use them, decked with huge scarlet bows, as Christmas decorations.’
      • ‘Ribbons, laces and bows in silk and satin were seen on many designer gowns.’
      • ‘Inside the entire palace was decorated in red bows and green holly.’
      • ‘Her pale hair was held back in a bow with a brooch at the center of the bow.’
      • ‘Purchase Christmas cards, wrapping paper, tissue, bows, ribbon and decorations for next year while they are on sale now.’
      • ‘Her shoulders are bare, and she has a big white bow in her hair.’
      • ‘You could also ‘wrap’ your front door or window with a bow and ribbon, and some packing tape.’
      loop, knot
      View synonyms
  • 2A weapon for shooting arrows, typically made of a curved piece of wood joined at both ends by a taut string.

    • ‘When the Cherokee got these new weapons, bows and arrows especially, they were able to kill many more animals than before.’
    • ‘They stood in the trenches, weapons unsheathed and arrows nocked on bows.’
    • ‘They had walked and driven for hours to get there, carrying the only weapons they possessed - bows and arrows, spears and machetes.’
    • ‘We will also include a selection of ranged weapons such as bows, crossbows and slings.’
    • ‘As sinew is naturally elastic and horn compressive, their combination resulted in a bow of considerable power, yet which crucially was short enough to use with ease on horseback.’
    • ‘Boys practice shooting bows and arrows at the age of three.’
    • ‘A strung bow with an arrow nocked to the string produced itself from behind her back.’
    • ‘It's impossible to slouch with a solid three inch bow at your back, and the sandals require short steps.’
    • ‘Swords, spears, bows and arrows and many other weapons were being made in full force.’
    • ‘Apart from her loosely held bow, she does not look well-equipped for the hunt.’
    • ‘She picked up her hunter's bow and the quiver of poison tipped arrows, and slung them around her shoulder.’
    • ‘His followers had matchlocks, spears, swords, bows and arrows.’
    • ‘The catalogue, includes an assortment of weapons: bows and arrows, swords and spears.’
    • ‘He takes a handmade bow, loops the wire around a hardwood stick, and proceeds to saw back and forth.’
    • ‘In mounted combat their prime weapons were bow and arrow and lance rather than the awkward and uncertain trade musket.’
    • ‘Dawn drew her bow, nocking an arrow after she strung it.’
    • ‘The gates opened with speed to let the approaching friends in, and bowmen fitted bows to shoot down the riders.’
    • ‘She went into the woods with her bow and arrows and quickly found her prey.’
    • ‘He ran up to one bowman and cleaved his bow in half.’
    • ‘Yet he did not spy any bows or arrows, javelins, or other weapons that could strike at a distance.’
    longbow, crossbow, recurve
    View synonyms
  • 3A long, partially curved rod with horsehair stretched along its length, used for playing the violin and other stringed instruments.

    • ‘As I sang, I was prodded in the leg by the cellist's bow.’
    • ‘When the electric is used, it's played with a violin bow, which results in a sound I'm sure we could use to communicate with whales.’
    • ‘They meld beautifully with the electric guitar (played by a violin bow of course).’
    • ‘The bows of the cellos, violins and double-basses seem to caress your heart strings and not those of their instruments.’
    • ‘A typical Baroque violin or viol bow had a finely tapered snakewood stick, almost straight or slightly curved outwards.’
    • ‘Tenenbaum, who just happened to have her violin, lifted her bow and began to play.’
    • ‘When all four cellos enter using bows, the texture and performance practices suggest a classical string quartet.’
    • ‘She watched his downcast face, as he rested the fine horsehair of his bow on his knee.’
    • ‘She gently placed the bow on the violin and very carefully began to play.’
    • ‘Many great players have publicly stated that they would rather play on a duff instrument with a great bow than a great instrument with a bad bow.’
    • ‘And we often set them swaying back and forth with an accidental whack of a violin bow.’
    • ‘The stealer of the show was definitely Peers when he played his guitar like an upside-down guitar with a violin bow.’
    • ‘The light bows are curved outward and strung with black horse hair, which gives the music incisive attacks and lush sustains.’
    • ‘Here is a picture of James aged six, clearly more interested in the violin bow than in the dance.’
    • ‘I seem to remember that although I couldn't play a note on the violin with the bow, I wasn't too bad at pizzicato.’
    • ‘Red opened up the case, grabbed the little tin soup can and set it out near him; he then took out the old bow and violin and began to play.’
    • ‘Once open she proceeds to pull out the violin and rosin her bow.’
    • ‘Several cultures drink mare's milk; and horse hair is used for violin bows, mattresses and lining for clothes.’
    • ‘Rosin can be used as a plasticizer, in the manufacture of varnishes and printing inks, and also to treat bows for stringed instruments.’
    • ‘The wood was similar to an East Indian variety called pau brasil, which was then popular in Europe for making cabinets and violin bows.’
    1. 3.1 A single passage of a bow over the strings of an instrument.
      • ‘She claims to have used a lighter bow for Schubert than Brahms.’
      • ‘Rapid bowing, slow bows and staccato to bowing are reviewed, and exercises for each are prescribed.’
      • ‘Bow every note slowly while concentrating on bow placement and technique.’
  • 4A curved stroke forming part of a letter (e.g. b, p).

    • ‘In particular, the bow of the letter a is particularly sharp and pointed.’
    • ‘The letter D develops gradually the uncial form ... by lengthening the upper stroke of the bow.’
    • ‘An interesting stylistic preference in many early Insular documents was to "borrow" a stroke of a preceding letter (usually a letter with a large 'bow'’
    • ‘The letter "B," even in its early stages, begins to lose the upper bow.’
    • ‘The scribe's standard capital "D" is formed of two strokes, a vertical stroke forming the back that curves a bit to the left at the top, and the right stroke forming the bow.’
  • 5A metal ring forming the handle of a key or pair of scissors.

    • ‘At least the finger bow provided at the movable scissors blade is made ... of a resilient synthetic material or similar material.’
    • ‘It’s obvious that bow scissors are suitable for delicate work.’
    • ‘Shears are usually six inches long or longer with one bow for the thumb and one elongated bow for two or more fingers.’
    • ‘Yarns of lengths between 3 and 5 mm were sampled with fine point tweezers and spring bow scissors ... from thread ends in damaged areas.’
    • ‘It has long been known to manufacture scissors with finger and thumb bows either of the same size or with the finger bow larger than the thumb bow.’
    1. 5.1North American A side piece or lens frame of a pair of glasses.
      • ‘This hearing aid device has a body that can be attached to an eyeglasses bow has a channel therein for acceptance of a flexible eyeglasses bow end piece.’
      • ‘The lenses don't meet the corners of the frame where the bows attach.’
      • ‘A pair of eyeglasses includes an elongated lens unit, a pair of connectors, and a pair of elongated bows.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • Play (a stringed instrument or music) using a bow.

    ‘the techniques by which the pieces were bowed’
    ‘the mind can concentrate on finger action without worrying about bowing’
    • ‘Equally, it is not string players who are expected to bow a saw or a cymbal.’
    • ‘I could see they were impressed with my first piece as I bowed the last note.’
    • ‘He took the recorded testimonies of Holocaust survivors and scored them as computer samples against the striking bowed chords of a string quartet.’

Phrases

  • have (or add) another string to one's bow

    • Have a further resource that one can make use of.

      ‘he decided to go for the degree so he would have another string to his bow’
      • ‘He, however, has another string to his bow.’
      • ‘He has another string to his bow, being a purveyor of crafty cutters.’
      • ‘If we get it right we have added another string to our bow.’
      • ‘Now he is to add another string to his bow, by donning a white beard and red outfit and playing Santa Claus for the first time when the society holds its Christmas Fair tomorrow.’
      • ‘Perhaps the Glasgow appearance showed that I have another string to my bow at full back and hopefully that might sway some opinion in my direction.’
      • ‘It shows we have another string to our bow, and another area in which we are doing well.’
      • ‘One of the St. Laurence's set dancers has another string to her bow!’
      • ‘The talented musician and performer will add another string to her bow with her role in the one-woman play, ‘Dust ‘.’
      • ‘But because of my early injury at Newcastle I always thought I needed to have another string to my bow in case I had to pack in the game.’
      • ‘Adults who were looking to add another string to their bow were out in force last week at Opportunity Knocks, the adult education fair which was held in the Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow.’
      • ‘The interesting thing is that they cross-train their field engineers as carpenters and electricians, so that's added another string to our bow and given us more capacity to do work around the AO.’
      • ‘They added another string to their bow at Derwent Park yesterday when they proved they can battle and scrap for victories.’
      • ‘At some point in the future, the actress reveals, she also wants to add another string to her bow.’
      • ‘As well as lower charges and likely out-performance, some index trackers have another string to their bow, because they give you the average performance of the stock market.’
      • ‘He said: ‘It is a recognition of the role PTEs already play in developing public transport in city regions and adds another string to our bow.’’
      • ‘I would recommend the Untimely Meditations to anyone who has read a few pieces and would like to add another string to his bow.’
      • ‘There is money to be made, and it is a very satisfying job, but it helps if you have another string to your bow too, at least in the early days.’
      • ‘He has recently added another string to his bow having been awarded his trainer's licence at the end of 2002.’
      • ‘A hard-hitting right hander and an off-spinner, he has another string to his bow, being a very good fielder.’
  • have many strings to one's bow

    • Have a wide range of resources that one can make use of.

      • ‘Professionally he had many strings to his bow, being a writer of prose and poetry, editor and lecturer.’
      • ‘During his long and busy life Mr Gill has had many strings to his bow, and the occupations of his leisure hours have been varied and interesting.’
      • ‘I love the metaphor you used for your wife, ‘… she has many strings to her bow, poetry and music (classical violin) to name but two.’
      • ‘Now in his sixth decade, Gwynne has many strings to his bow.’
      • ‘Badger Jenny is a busy Badger who has many strings to her bow.’
      • ‘Sam, who joined the Ulster Star as darts and football correspondent in 1958, devoted much of his life to darts, but had many strings to his bow.’
      • ‘Elisabeth sings with the band as their guest but has many strings to her bow.’
      • ‘Patsy has many strings to her bow; not only is she an outstanding player with flair and intellect, she is also a wonderful teacher and composer.’
      • ‘Pippa has many strings to her bow and with that comes a varied professional life.’
      • ‘As a violinist she has many strings to her bow and qualifications to her name.’
      • ‘The Champion 100m hurdler and 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games finalist has many strings to her bow.’
      • ‘Gertrude has many strings to her bow, guardian angel, seasonal fairy, a confidant (to anyone who will listen) and occasionally freelancing for Hugh someone.’
      • ‘Chevvy has many strings to her bow, although is mainly to be found behind the wheel of some large vehicle or other.’
      • ‘It was Karen who trained me to Level ii in Reiki Healing; but she has many strings to her bow.’
      • ‘So far I have many strings to my bow which include (in order)… Newspaper Delivery, Delicatessen Staff, Graphic Artist, Model maker, Dole-ite, CAD Operator and finally Cable TV / Telecomms Designer.’
      • ‘Tracey Smith, our Marketing Manager, has many strings to her bow, Trust Membership being (a major) one of them.’
      • ‘He praises the young star's abilities, saying: ‘She has an amazing talent and has many strings to her bow.’’
      • ‘Pierre had many strings to his bow - as a layman he was dedicated to adoration and to evangelisation " in the world but not of the world "; he was a student of antiques, a hotelier, a distributor of books and an editor, a journalist and member of a cinema jury panel.’
      • ‘June has many strings to her bow - apart from being a fully qualified First Aid Instructor (who trains the field guides at all the Madikwe lodges) she is also a field guide and a pretty decent back up on those walks.’
      • ‘Secondly I have learnt that I am an unusual practitioner in a city context as I have many strings to my bow.’

Origin

Old English boga ‘bend, bow, arch’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch boog and German Bogen, also to bow.

Pronunciation

bow

/bəʊ/

Main definitions of bow in English

: bow1bow2bow3

bow2

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1Bend the head or upper part of the body as a sign of respect, greeting, or shame.

    ‘he turned and bowed to his father’
    with object ‘she knelt and bowed her head’
    ‘councillors stood with heads bowed’
    • ‘From a field, the horses observe the Statue of Liberty, and, indeed, they bow down before it.’
    • ‘Isaac's blessing prophesied that Esau would bow down before Jacob; but no, here is Jacob, bowing down before Esau.’
    • ‘It was customary when they finished, to bow as a sign of respect to their master.’
    • ‘‘Lord, there are bad guys out there,’ he says, bowing his head.’
    • ‘Haman was furious with Mordecai, because Mordecai refused to bow down before him to show his respect.’
    • ‘Others, probably close friends, bowed their heads respectfully, mumbling - a prayer perhaps.’
    • ‘Roland kissed the hand of the priest and rose to his people, and bowed to them in respect.’
    • ‘Formal greetings are made by bowing the head and upper body.’
    • ‘The figure bowed to show respect to the man and then stood straight up again.’
    • ‘The man climbed off his horse, and bowed to Dominic in respect.’
    • ‘The Human quickly bowed, as a sign of respect and kindness.’
    • ‘Soon I would control legions and all would bow down before me.’
    • ‘Make way heathens, and bow to your celestial overlords!’
    • ‘He urged his followers to bow down before him, in Persian fashion.’
    • ‘He took one final, loving look at his father's serene face and bowed in most profound respect to the body on the bier.’
    • ‘At concerts, upon arriving to the podium he would first bow to the orchestra and then to the audience.’
    • ‘On the screen, the little girl bows her head slightly to accept her trophy.’
    • ‘Immediately, almost as if it were a reflex Bastian dropped to one knee head bowed as a sign of respect for the future king of Geneval.’
    • ‘He said he's had fans bow down before him, and shrugged off the hardships of playing the physically demanding part.’
    • ‘I bow down before it and pray fervently that I never come face to face with it.’
    • ‘‘You honour me,’ Sothos replied, bowing his head. ‘’
    • ‘The waiter who has magically appeared at her side bows slightly and asks her if she wants anything.’
    • ‘Drake's head rose from its resting place, I bowed to show my respect to my own creator.’
    incline the body, incline the head, make an obeisance, make a bow, nod, curtsy, drop a curtsy, bob, salaam, genuflect, bend the knee, kowtow
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Express (thanks, agreement, or other sentiments) by bending one's head respectfully.
      ‘he looked at Hector before bowing grave thanks’
      • ‘In his small webbed hands he held Spitz's helmet which Pax gently accepted bowing his thanks.’
      • ‘I bowed agreement, but ventured to make a suggestion.’
      • ‘He was genuinely pleased with this marriage and so Lydia could do nothing, but bow her thanks.’
      • ‘The lad bowed his thanks and knotted the sash around his body in the usual fashion.’
      • ‘The big retailers have no plans to bow this criticism, however.’
      • ‘The dance ended and he bowed his thanks and left her in the middle of the ballroom.’
      • ‘She took his hands, and they bowed their heads together.’
      • ‘Just email me and rant and rave and I'll get back to you, bowing thanks for putting me on your favorites list!’
  • 2Bend with age or under pressure.

    ‘the roof trusses bowed as the wind fought to rip the roof free’
    with object ‘the creepers were bowed down with flowers’
    • ‘In both tests, the core failed to melt and showed no sign of panel bowing, bending, or deflection.’
    • ‘I did put out a quiver-tip, which rocked back and forth like a blade of grass bowing and stooping before the wind.’
    • ‘Pensioners, although they appear bowed by the more strenuous life they once went through, find time for a humorous chat on a bench in front of St Mary's Church.’
    • ‘If your walls are bowed, bumpy or imperfect, you might be able to achieve a better finish by stripping them bare.’
    • ‘So as not to feel Time's horrible burden, one which breaks your shoulders and bows you down, you must get drunk without cease.’
    1. 2.1 Submit to pressure or demands.
      ‘the government has bowed to pressure from farmers to increase compensation’
      • ‘Now the Government has bowed to pressure and reversed its policy, in a move which should prevent such deaths from happening again.’
      • ‘Coming into the Olympics, the British sprinters' heads were bowed by the weight of their accusers and they ran as if carrying the cares of the world.’
      • ‘Despite giving my backing to his campaign against New Years Eve parties as usual I bowed to peer-group pressure and went out on the night itself.’
      • ‘The Government has bowed to pressure for an inquiry into the foot-and-mouth disease crisis and admitted lessons have to be learned.’
      • ‘Americans can make any graven image they wish to make, and bow down to whatever god or idol they wish.’
      • ‘But how many are there who can hear debt knocking at his door, with no end in sight; bowed by pain and sorrow in his family; and still do the right thing?’
      • ‘But Thistle, to their credit, refused to be bowed and they continued to go for the winner.’
      • ‘Only a day earlier, she had reluctantly bowed to pressure from senior Congress Party members to accept the job.’
      • ‘We are expected to bow down before the divinely written Word, even when that Word famously, ludicrously contradicts itself over and over and over again.’
      • ‘Ministers have bowed to pressure by weakening a series of expensive regulations after protests from cash-strapped home owners.’
      • ‘If it comes to me having to totally sell out and bow down, I don't think I'll do it.’
      • ‘But last week Britain, too, bowed to the pressure.’
      • ‘Even after Monday night's recount result gave the seat to her opponent, she would not be bowed.’
      • ‘There followed a prolonged period of discussion on the subject before John finally bowed to pressure from the floor and agreed to stay on for one more year.’
      • ‘Pro-European constitution campaigners last night refused to be bowed by the results of the poll.’
      • ‘Before the Constitution all other laws and legislation bow.’
      • ‘Let's forget what makes Greenwich special and just bow down to whatever the property developers want.’
      • ‘But bowing your head against dark forces will only help them spread.’
      • ‘I fear that yes consumerism has become the new religion and that we are now obliged to bow down before the almighty market.’
      • ‘As Westerners bow down before multiculturalism, we anesthetize ourselves into believing that anything goes.’
      • ‘He realizes that the misfortunes of life, like losing a job or a home, or disastrous illness, may bow him down but can never break him.’
      • ‘This fractured city, crow-branch black, is bowed with armies, bent and hungry, fed with air and black bread.’
      • ‘Last month, City of York Council chiefs bowed to pressure from city centre restaurateurs who said York's evening parking bans had badly affected trade.’
      • ‘If I can't get it out of you, by God, I will take off my hat and bow down and kiss the feet of the one that can do it better.’
      • ‘His mind was employed upon Christ, and even bodily he felt as if set free from a great burden which had bowed him down.’
      • ‘In the meantime, we can only bow to the scorn of the multitude, and await the judgment of posterity.’
      • ‘The seed and chemical giant bowed to pressure from a wide range of farm groups, who have been reacting to growing opposition from wheat buyers and consumers.’
      • ‘Hindu temples have been attacked several times by gangs of Muslim youths, and he said they were not going to be bowed by the repeated attacks.’
      • ‘What happened to her was tragic and awful, but she managed to maintain a level of happiness and refused to be bowed by her illness.’
      • ‘Late this afternoon, the fire department bowed to that pressure.’
      give in, give way, yield, submit, surrender, succumb, capitulate, assent, defer, kowtow, truckle, adhere, conform
      View synonyms
  • 3North American (of a new film or product) be premiered or launched.

    ‘the trailer bowed in theaters nationwide on December 23’
    ‘the Pentium III bowed in early 1999’
    • ‘The same can be said of other models bowing next year.’

noun

  • An act of bending the head or upper body as a sign of respect or greeting.

    ‘the man gave a little bow’
    • ‘Sir Robin, clean-cut and the soul of discretion, gives a brief head bow and addresses the Queen as ‘Your Majesty’.’
    • ‘They bent down on one knee in a bow before their king.’
    • ‘Davis looked up and gave a signal of approval, and after a quick bow, the pair of messengers was gone.’
    • ‘I suppose my eyes conveyed the same message, and I smirked at him, inclining my head in a bow, before stepping up to shake his hand.’
    • ‘Tyrielle went into a deep bow, his waist length hair touching the floor slightly.’
    • ‘The song ended and I took a quick, self-conscious bow.’
    • ‘Chavez replied with a smile and a mock bow, just before he grabbed Pen's hands, swept her off her feet and carried her up into the air, screaming.’
    • ‘He nodded towards the pictures and gave a mock bow.’
    • ‘Then she smiled nicely, took a little bow, blew a kiss, and gave just the briefest, politest, friendliest pump of a fist.’
    • ‘He looked down and saw she was on one knee, in a bow.’
    • ‘As the skyline took a descending bow, we felt the surge of power riding the carriage to the top.’
    • ‘Chris gave her a mock bow, before taking her empty bottle.’
    • ‘Karajan modestly confines himself to initial bows and a last curtain embellished with bouquets.’
    • ‘Grasping the baton with both hands, he takes a single low bow, then turns to face the orchestra.’
    • ‘They also saluted him with a deep 45-degree bow in his honor.’
    • ‘I stood there for a while before wandering over to the fountain, where a Hispanic guy was taking mock bows for his friends.’
    • ‘He gave her a mock bow and pulled out a set of car keys from his pocket, ‘whatever you say, m'lady.’’
    • ‘All of the younger class men sank to the floor in a bow, all except Jessica and Andrew.’
    • ‘‘Thank you, sire,’ she said in a bow before trailing after the two scouts in silence.’
    • ‘Branson inclined his head slightly in a bow, and Angelie curtsied again.’
    inclination, obeisance, nod, curtsy, bob, salaam, salutation
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • bow and scrape

    • Behave in an obsequious way to someone in authority.

      ‘a jailer led them in, the fellow bowing and scraping as he recognized Sir John’
      • ‘Just how long is a refugee supposed to bow and scrape?’
      • ‘The waiters will bow and scrape and tend to your every wish, for I will have pre-arranged this level of service with the manager.’
      • ‘But every time we do so, we have had to bow and scrape and beg and plead to please be allowed to do the right thing.’
      • ‘The community are now having to bow and scrape, apologising and reasoning for what four freaks, four statistical anomalies, four twisted and tortured minds have done.’
      • ‘Break it up, and let us staff it with people who care about what they do, and do not have to bow and scrape to a Government bureaucracy that inhibits them from being as constructive as they possibly can be.’
      • ‘So Russ flipped out and is in trouble for attacking some poor guy who was probably not in the mood to bow and scrape before the superstar.’
      • ‘Last month, I met him at another awards ceremony, and he got similarly royal treatment, with well-wishers and sycophants issuing forth to bow and scrape.’
      • ‘Don't call me Lord Peter, Charles, I refuse to allow a perfectly decent though rather dull man to bow and scrape to me!’
      • ‘At the same time, don't bow and scrape before the vulgar, even when they are proud and full of themselves.’
      • ‘A series of columns in the November 25 issue all exhibited an irrepressible need to bow and scrape before the Republican right.’
      • ‘The idea that we should bow and scrape to such a family is obscene.’
      • ‘A stubborn defender of his own beliefs, and commendably reluctant to bow and scrape at the altar of the Old Firm, he may have overstepped the mark this time.’
      • ‘The fact is that we are expected to bow and scrape to them simply because they were born with that name (or obtained it through marriage).’
      • ‘People are expected to curtsey, bow and scrape before them.’
      • ‘Why is it American media types bow and scrape before Europeans as our obvious genetic masters?’
      • ‘Just so long as we don't have to bow and scrape too much we'll do our bit to improve her day, just as she's done hers to improve all of mine.’
      • ‘He further remarked that Americans were fierce egalitarians who, despite differences of income and status, refused to bow and scrape before anybody.’
      • ‘How could a region that possessed such an incomparable language bow and scrape to States where people spoke the inferior Hindi?’
      • ‘I was of one of the most noble families of the Roman Empire, yet this man inspired such a fear in me that I would bow and scrape to him.’
      • ‘You can bet on football and basketball with drug-dealing bookmakers as long as you bow and scrape and genuflect when called onto the commissioner's carpet.’
  • make one's bow

    • Make one's first formal appearance in a particular role.

      ‘the midfielder only made his England bow nine months ago’
      • ‘Another Collyhurst lad makes his bow in the pro ranks on home turf.’
      • ‘A group of young Burnley fans had a day to remember when Wimbledon made their bow at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes last weekend.’
      • ‘And he has asked the fans to continue pulling in the same direction as the mystery consortium which is looking to back the club, and carry on the fight in any way they can in readiness for the club to make their bow next season.’
      • ‘Six years ago, he made his full international debut for England to join an elite list of national greats to make their bow around their 21st birthday.’
      • ‘She makes her bow in a Grand Slam outside of Britain, losing in the first round of the 2003 Australian Open’
      • ‘But Harry will not be getting any butterflies before he makes his bow after 15 years experience in the butchers trade.’
      • ‘The 32-year-old, who was released by Boro at the end of last season, will join his new team-mates at training today before making his bow between the sticks in tonight's friendly against Gainsborough Trinity.’
      • ‘Snooker's glamour boy makes his bow in this year's UK Championship in York at 10 am on Wednesday morning.’
      • ‘This is the first time they have progressed beyond the first round since making their bow in the competition in 1995.’
      • ‘The centre forward or centre half signed from Guiseley a few weeks ago but has only been available once so far, making tomorrow's game an ideal opportunity to make his bow at Station View.’
  • take a bow

    • Acknowledge applause after a performance by bowing.

      ‘the music ended and the girl took a bow’
      figurative ‘for shrewd transfers the team's manager must take a well-deserved bow’
      • ‘Finally, after our tearful father called an ambulance, Kelly jumped up, took a bow and said, ‘That was my impression of a dead baby bird!’’
      • ‘But he took a bow at the end with the rest of the cast and no attempt was made to remove him, so he was clearly part of the conception rather than a madman who had wandered in off the street.’
      • ‘One source familiar with the videotape said: ‘After throwing the vase, he takes a bow like he's just completed a performance on stage and then he takes a karate stance.’’
      • ‘At the end, about 30 came out and clapped and took a bow.’
      • ‘A young woman takes a bow after her ‘performance’.’
      • ‘When the song was over, everyone applauded and Hailey took a bow.’
      • ‘Charles, after seeing his partner run off, went to the center of the stage and took a bow, after which he was given tremendous applause from the highly amused audience.’
      • ‘When the conductor beckoned them to take a bow after the performance, the audience rose as one to acclaim them.’
      • ‘All in all a great performance from everyone so take a bow folks and congratulations to all involved.’
      • ‘The girls filed past, and every other girl took a bow.’
      • ‘On a day when their three rookies took a bow, the away team could not repeat the spectacular start they had made a day earlier.’
      • ‘Those who organised the various events and there were many, must take a bow, for all of their efforts.’
      • ‘Her son Teddy, a musician in his own right who co-wrote some of the songs on her comeback album, tells her exasperatedly that she is meant to stay on stage at the end of her performance and take a bow, not scurry off into the wings.’
      • ‘As trading was described as being brisk throughout the weekend, the organisers of the 13 th Annual Foxford Craft Fair in Foxford must take a bow on a job very well done indeed.’
      • ‘A pleasant applause filled the room and Will took a bow.’
      • ‘A great round of applause sounded, and she tried to stand up and take a bow, but fell to the ground laughing.’
      • ‘The band ends and the girls walk off after taking a bow.’
      • ‘The audience gave them a roar of applause as they took a bow.’
      • ‘The girls on stage took a bow and toddled offstage.’
      • ‘It was smiles all round in Killarney as students took a bow at a special graduation ceremony.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • bow out

    • Withdraw or retire from an activity or role.

      ‘many artists are forced to bow out of the profession at a relatively early age’
      • ‘They wanted to retire but feared that their club would fold if they bowed out.’
      • ‘When Britain's most famous female golfer bows out of the American Tour, the Lancashire Girls champion from Pleasington is well on course to take her place.’
      • ‘Sometimes when a defense attorney bows out of a case it is because he or she has either come to know too much, has said too much, or has committed him or herself to too much to effectively defend the client.’
      • ‘The York theatre legend had to bow out of the star role after the opening night when he was taken to hospital with intense stomach pains.’
      • ‘The dip in applications this year will be a further blow to principals, many of whom are struggling to fill vacancies caused by teachers retiring, bowing out early and leaving the job to go into other careers.’
      • ‘That doesn't seem to be the case, though, as Pierce has decided to gracefully bow out of the role.’
      • ‘What Dawn actually has more of than the original is sharp observation of human nature; how people react in a crisis, how they arrange power structure in a group, who comes to the fore and who bows out.’
      • ‘Later, Carmela finds one lawyer, but the effort to reach the unreported assets depends on the work of an investigator who bows out when he learns who is involved.’
      • ‘By these accounts, it would seem that the only good politician is a non-politician, somebody who bows out deferentially to the sidelines.’
      • ‘The embattled leader has been told privately by senior advisers that he either bows out gracefully or risks bringing the party into a damaging dispute.’
      • ‘The D.A. picks the prosecutors, then - usually - bows out.’
      • ‘This was a leader who had been transformed from a virtual electoral liability in 1999 into a probable asset for 2003, if he were to call one more election before he bows out.’
      • ‘He will be missed when he bows out of competition.’
      • ‘He bows out, at least in terms of a formal campaign.’
      • ‘I thought he missed his chance to bow out and retire undefeated - but then I am not the first, nor the last, to be wrong.’
      • ‘Peers cannot retire, so bowing out means they lose their right to expenses and allowances-worth up to £31,000 a year.’
      • ‘She bows out because, if she does the talent show at all, she'd rather do a skit - or so she claims.’
      • ‘As he bows out of the race he has dominated for 7 years, Armstrong even seems to have finally won the battle for the respect, if not the affection, of France.’
      • ‘After the collapse, I hastily bowed out and retired for a mug of hot, milky, sugary coffee.’
      • ‘Such teachers might have taken early retirement or might have bowed out temporarily.’
      withdraw from, resign from, retire from, step down from, get out of, pull out of, back out of, stop participating in
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English būgan ‘bend, stoop’, of Germanic origin; related to German biegen, also to bow.

Pronunciation

bow

/baʊ/

Main definitions of bow in English

: bow1bow2bow3

bow3

(also bows)

noun

  • The front end of a ship.

    ‘water sprayed high over her bows’
    • ‘She stood at the bow of the ship, letting the breeze play with her hair.’
    • ‘A good 1500 meters stretched from the stubby bow back to the equally stubby stern.’
    • ‘I am in the musty storage bow of a sailless schooner on the murky waters of the river Styx.’
    • ‘The ship has a bow and a stern ramp for fast landing of troops and combat material.’
    • ‘The ceiling lights lit in a sequence from the aft deck to the bow of the ship and the floor lighting blinked twice before staying on.’
    • ‘Before he could say another word the pirate ran to the edge of the bow and jumped ship.’
    • ‘The wide planing hull lends stability for easy shots down tough rapids, and the boat's upturned bow makes punching through big holes a cinch.’
    • ‘The former, as prime contractor, builds the aft and central superstructure, the latter the ship's bow and distinctive pyramidal main mast.’
    • ‘When we stood at the bow of the ship we peered over the edge and watched the maidenhead get battered, the wooden carving taking the abuse in stride.’
    • ‘There were shrapnel pockmarks from bow to stern, and the main living area was just one enormous cavity of burnt wood, twisted metal and torn cables.’
    • ‘Once they had hauled out their gear, he motored away, the flag on his little boat's bow snapping in the winter breeze.’
    • ‘Blackbeard's sword shone in the light, as he stood at the bow of the ship, one knee up, staring foreword at his island.’
    • ‘She turned to cross to the starboard side, but she saw Nathaniel laughing, and she changed her mind and stood at the bow of the ship.’
    • ‘Although the public saw the usual hands at the wheel of the ship of state, they were as decorative as the figureheads on the bows of old sailing ships.’
    • ‘Without the support of the bowsprit, the long spar that extends forward from the bow of the ship, there was no support for the masts.’
    • ‘Kerry's boat ran up to me in the water, bow on, and I was able to climb up a cargo net to the lip of the deck.’
    • ‘Steve stood at the bow of the ship, unprotected from the storm and hanging on for dear life as he pointed excitedly.’
    • ‘The wrinkles dispersed like waves disappearing before the bow of a ship.’
    • ‘Sitting in the Sequoia's bow, I can hear only the creak of the oars and the muffled roar of the falls.’
    • ‘The twins stood at the bow of the ship as the creak and groan of ice echoed all around.’
    prow, front, forepart, stem, rostrum, ram, nose, head, bowsprit, cutwater
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • on the bow

    • Within 45° of the point directly ahead.

      • ‘‘This will not be a problem as they will take this southwesterly gale straight on the bow of the ship,’ the department said.’
      • ‘Four miles out to sea, both Nicholas and Hays agreed that it would be a fine day to see a broadbill or spearfish on the surface and within ten seconds a fin obligingly appeared 300 yards away directly on the bow.’
      • ‘We held on for dear life, braving the swells of the Tasman Sea, as the dolphins played on the bow and jumped in our wake.’
      • ‘I can't work out whether they are swimming hard or perhaps riding a pressure wave, like a dolphin would on the bow of a boat.’
      • ‘The dive boat hurtled at the swell, outboard motors bellowing, the white-knuckled skipper see-sawing the throttle, the rest of us staring transfixed at the crackling green breakers on the bow.’
  • a (warning) shot across the bows

    • A statement or gesture intended to frighten someone into changing their course of action.

      ‘supporters are firing a warning shot across the President's bows’
      • ‘There are not that many who have been completely barred but it's fired a warning shot across the bows.’
      • ‘Apparently they sometimes give you a warning shot across the bows before they sink the fangs in.’
      • ‘The recall vote was a shot across the bows for all politicians.’
      • ‘Most observers believe the bill was meant to be a shot across the Islamic Republic's bow.’
      • ‘This is simply a warning shot across the bows of the Iraqi leadership.’

Origin

Late Middle English: from Low German boog, Dutch boeg, ‘shoulder or ship's bow’; related to bough.

Pronunciation

bow

/baʊ/