Definition of craven in US English:



  • Contemptibly lacking in courage; cowardly.

    ‘a craven abdication of his moral duty’
    • ‘The considered teaching of churchmen and philosophers still holds incarnate beauty to be, at best, the unintended consequence of accident or design and, at worst, plain old craven idolatry.’
    • ‘Misguided craven cowards have debased the nobleness of mankind.’
    • ‘Please check your facts before you accuse us of being craven.’
    • ‘There is no reason for this other than craven cowardice in the face of power.’
    • ‘It basically makes him look like a weak, indecisive, craven leader.’
    • ‘Sure, they can whine about negative depictions, but much of that is caused by their own lack of character and craven pandering.’
    • ‘Ignoring the situation or simply hoping that it will disappear of its own accord is craven, misguided and, most importantly, dangerous.’
    • ‘Regrettably, though, there seem to be at least a few examples of the cheapest, most craven opportunism.’
    • ‘Will he take us deeper into the lives of some craven misfits?’
    • ‘It also pays well and makes them look less craven.’
    • ‘And who should know better than he that it is craven to belittle a man's service because it didn't extend over some arbitrary stretch of time?’
    • ‘There's something simultaneously craven and arrogant about the manner in which senior Catholic politicians use their positions to wrangle papal audiences, often at taxpayers' expense.’
    • ‘The first two are so terrified of their circulation numbers that they'll do any chaotic, craven thing to boost them (other than print challenging pieces, of course).’
    • ‘All of the apologizers are craven, but my favorite is a young woman holding up a sign that says: ‘I tried!’’
    • ‘Harr was craven, had always been, and the little courage he'd summoned up to come out here and try to take her down was deserting him fast.’
    • ‘It would be better to say that the Boy Scouts prevailed with a good constitutional argument, supported by weak evidence, craven apprehensions and unthinking hostility.’
    • ‘A man of honor, a man of undeniable courage has been depicted as a craven coward by these memos.’
    • ‘This answer, amazingly, wasn't craven enough.’
    • ‘But it wasn't that the nation saw that politicians were all a bunch of craven opportunists.’
    • ‘On the whole, the Law School has been somewhat less craven than the average administration, and its faculty includes more vigorous defenders of free speech than is usually the case.’
    faint-hearted, lily-livered, chicken-hearted, pigeon-hearted, spiritless, spineless
    cowardly, lily-livered, faint-hearted, chicken-hearted, pigeon-hearted, spiritless, spineless, timid, timorous, fearful, trembling, quaking, shrinking, cowering, afraid of one's own shadow, pusillanimous, weak, feeble, soft
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  • A cowardly person.

    weakling, milksop, namby-pamby, mouse
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Middle English cravant ‘defeated’, perhaps via Anglo-Norman French from Old French cravante, past participle of cravanter ‘crush, overwhelm’, based on Latin crepare ‘burst’. The change in the ending in the 17th century was due to association with past participles ending in -en (see -en).