Definition of cowardly in English:



  • 1Lacking courage.

    ‘he was a weak, cowardly man’
    • ‘As it happens this war is being fought in a rather cowardly manner.’
    • ‘The more cowardly completely lost courage, but the more able and subtle did not think it necessary to give up.’
    • ‘Finally, irritated with myself for being so cowardly to turn away, I looked back into his eyes.’
    • ‘I'd never felt so cowardly before in my life until that moment.’
    • ‘They think we are weak, cowardly people who will be intimidated and scared off by their mistreatment of our prisoners.’
    • ‘A strange country where the military lost their power but none of the cowardly politicians had the courage to tell them.’
    • ‘And the higher up you get in education the more cowardly you become.’
    • ‘Making unfounded claims in a public forum - a press conference no less - are the actions of a very weak and cowardly man.’
    • ‘I also, typically, want to be a good person, to be courageous rather than cowardly, fair rather than unjust, and the like.’
    • ‘There is more foolishness, more cowardly hearts, less courage, lack of appreciation and gratitude and less politeness.’
    • ‘She was apparently on a vain quest to appeal to the man that he once was, trying to beg his soft, weak, cowardly side for mercy.’
    • ‘Kay has left Benjamin before because he's weak and cowardly.’
    • ‘A timid or cowardly person would never take that leap.’
    • ‘We are all courageous and cowardly, depending on the hour and the day.’
    • ‘Were the librarians who filed the complaint responsible and courageous, or cowardly and unprofessional?’
    • ‘They are dull, slow, sober and fearful characters with a weak pulse and a cowardly, slothful disposition.’
    • ‘His neighbors are too small, too weak, too cowardly, or too troubled to take care of him themselves.’
    • ‘Sure she knew he loved her, but he was too cowardly to admit it.’
    • ‘The Prime Minister was too cowardly to visit the chamber while rebels wrecked his legislation.’
    faint-hearted, lily-livered, chicken-hearted, pigeon-hearted, spiritless, spineless, craven
    timid, timorous, fearful, trembling, quaking, shrinking, cowering, afraid of one's own shadow, pusillanimous, weak, feeble, soft
    yellow, chicken, weak-kneed, gutless, yellow-bellied, wimpish, wimpy, sissy, sissified
    poltroon, recreant, poor-spirited
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(of an action) carried out against a person who is unable to retaliate.
      ‘a cowardly attack on a helpless victim’
      • ‘A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world.’
      • ‘Ours is the greatest city in the world and we will not be divided by your cowardly attacks.’
      • ‘And Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack.’
      • ‘This was a particularly cowardly attack, it's the nastiness of the injuries really.’
      • ‘Kidnapping has always struck me as being rather cowardly.’
      • ‘After the case she said the men behind the cowardly attack would have known there were children in the house.’
      • ‘This cowardly and savage attack ended the life of ‘a loving, kind and gentle man’.’
      • ‘It was a cowardly attack for very little gain - they got a couple of tins of groceries and a few pounds.’
      • ‘My prayers and condolences are with those whose lives were tragically altered by the cowardly attacks.’
      • ‘What concerns me was they contained a cowardly attack on a local councillor.’
      • ‘This man has carried out a cowardly attack on an elderly woman who he knew would not be able to defend herself.’
      • ‘‘This was a very cowardly and unprovoked attack on a middle-aged lady going about her normal business,’ he said.’
      • ‘Saying it was ‘a cowardly attack by three on one, the Judge did acknowledge that no weapon had been used.’’
      • ‘"This was an absolutely despicable and cowardly act, " added Mr Wood.’
      • ‘This appears to be a premeditated and cowardly racially motivated attack.’
      • ‘I would urge the man responsible for the cowardly attack to come forward and admit the crime and face the justice which awaits him.’
      • ‘They called the tactic cowardly but agreed that it had been effective.’
      • ‘We are also certain that the police will apprehend the criminal who carried out this cowardly deed.’
      • ‘It is an horrific and extremely cowardly attack, which was totally unprovoked.’


  • In a way which shows a lack of courage.