Definition of vow in English:



  • 1A solemn promise.

    • ‘Among those annual commitments is usually a vow to become more deeply spiritual, more religious perhaps.’
    • ‘We must understand that salvation is much more than just repeating the words of a vow, however sincere those words may be.’
    • ‘Kirkstall was founded as a result of a solemn vow made by Henry de Lacy of Pontefract Castle.’
    • ‘Yvonne, 25, and Adrian, 35, made promises to Tyla and a vow to each other.’
    • ‘Although the retreat will not make them monks, they will still be required to take the same strict vows, including no intoxicants and a vow of celibacy.’
    • ‘Perhaps the most poignant thing about yesterday's ceremony was that the ability to fulfil that promise had been demonstrated even before the vow was taken.’
    • ‘However, he ventured to guess that no one would state that they wanted to give up the search since Alex had made it blatantly obvious that every word of their vow would be broken.’
    • ‘After marrying his wife Marianna in 1996, he made a second vow - that he would execute the first promise if anything ever happened to her.’
    • ‘Their silence was a vow of commitment stronger than faith.’
    • ‘It is one thing for adults to take vows and fulfil them, and quite another when a vow is taken in the name of a child.’
    • ‘Who would have guessed someone so young could make such a solemn vow and keep it for over fifty years.’
    • ‘So it's a new year and, just like last year and the year before, you've taken a solemn vow to lose weight and get fit.’
    • ‘She has taken with full seriousness in her own life the marriage vow with its commitment to lifelong fidelity.’
    • ‘Taking a deep breath, Ace decided to make a vow, a vow to protect Ari even if it meant losing his own life.’
    • ‘When he had taken his oath of allegiance to become a citizen, it was a solemn and eternal vow to him, equal in weight to his marriage vow.’
    • ‘I have sworn a vow of silence on these matters.’
    • ‘Yet she had kept a sacred vow she had made to me many years earlier.’
    • ‘The man is single-minded, stubborn even, and it seems odd that after repeatedly resisting the heartfelt pleas of his countrymen, Larsson might renege on his solemn vow.’
    • ‘Certainly some men who might make good priests cannot in honesty undertake a vow of celibacy, and so are lost.’
    • ‘When sober again he takes a solemn vow not to touch alcohol for 20 years.’
    oath, pledge, promise, bond, covenant, commitment, avowal, profession, sworn statement, affirmation, attestation, assurance, word, word of honour, guarantee
    asseveration, averment
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A set of solemn promises committing one to a prescribed role, calling, or course of action, typically to marriage or a monastic career.
      ‘the vows of celibacy’
      • ‘All members were to take the three traditional monastic vows.’
      • ‘They will renew their wedding vows in front of family and friends on Saturday.’
      • ‘One clue may be found in some of the book's chapter headings, which repeat the marriage vows from the Book of Common Prayer.’
      • ‘Baptismal vows were renewed as they were, once again, next morning, Easter Sunday.’
      • ‘Faithful to his ordination vows, and his concern for the spiritual well-being of his people, John Galway McVicker had been active in the revival.’
      • ‘He has some excellent things to say about the importance of chastity, especially among persons consecrated to God by sacred ordination or by vows.’
      • ‘The bill would not force clergy opposed to same-sex marriage to solemnize the vows.’
      • ‘Nuns celebrated their solemn vows with a marriage ceremony and a ring signifying their wedding to Christ.’
      • ‘An eighth-century Lombard nobleman in Tuscany even converted his house into a monastery and took his vows, apparently to avoid having to fight the Franks.’
      • ‘The two exchanged vows in front of a justice of the peace at New York City Hall today.’
      • ‘More importantly, I trusted him absolutely, assuming that we were both serious about our faith and our marriage vows.’
      • ‘I do not believe that civil union vows, or marriage vows for that matter, are only of symbolic value.’
      • ‘Herbert calls for all Christians to remember often their baptisms and baptismal vows.’
      • ‘There will be a solemn ordination service, with the taking of vows, the laying on of hands, and the giving of the right hand of fellowship.’
      • ‘Even in countries where women can take monastic vows, nunneries tend to be poorer and nuns hold lower status than monks.’
      • ‘In the early 1960's, after much agonizing, he gave up his monastic vows and jumped headlong into secular life.’
      • ‘They exchanged vows and rings and then the first kiss as husband and wife.’
      • ‘When he had written his treatise on monastic vows, Luther had only demanded that marriage should be open to everyone.’
      • ‘He then discusses marriage vows, the history of divorce, and modern reinterpretations.’
      • ‘Marriage vows are exchanged and the ceremony is conducted by a priest or minister.’


  • 1[reporting verb] Solemnly promise to do a specified thing.

    [with infinitive] ‘the rebels vowed to continue fighting’
    [with clause] ‘I vowed that my family would never go hungry’
    [with direct speech] ‘‘never again!’ he vowed’
    • ‘Parents and governors have vowed to fight plans to shut a school for children with severe disabilities.’
    • ‘He vowed to continue his appeal against an earlier decision against him.’
    • ‘But campaigners vowed the fight would go on to prevent the privatisation.’
    • ‘Furious families today vowed to fight developers for the fourth time to save their last piece of open space.’
    • ‘The day ended with demonstrations and recriminations at Old Trafford with thousands of hard core fans vowing never to return.’
    • ‘Police today vowed to continue their drugs and weapons clampdown near a nightclub.’
    • ‘Henry is convinced, and storms out vowing vengeance on the "giant traitor" Buckingham.’
    • ‘Club bosses have vowed to work with police to keep the gun culture out of south Essex.’
    • ‘Medley swimmer Dean Kent is vowing to continue competitive swimming.’
    • ‘I leave the shop vowing never to return and head for the heartless world outside.’
    • ‘Councillors have vowed to continue to reduce the number of homeless families in Southend.’
    • ‘Furious millionaire residents in the area have vowed to fight the plans.’
    • ‘The rebels vowed to resist any attack by the military and to fight on for independence.’
    • ‘"My policies will bring well-being, " Thaksin vowed in a recent televised speech.’
    • ‘Some rebelled and took oaths vowing to stay single for the rest of their lives.’
    • ‘After years vowing that I'd never play golf, I finally succumbed to it.’
    • ‘Despite the crackdown, some students are vowing to continue their protests until the 9th of July.’
    • ‘Campaigners have vowed to continue their fight to try to stop homes being built on part of a school site in Clacton.’
    • ‘Outside the court Ahktar, who is also a taxi driver, vowed he would continue with his political career.’
    • ‘The episodes of violence here have radicalized some residents who have vowed revenge, residents said.’
    swear, state under oath, swear under oath, swear on the bible, take an oath, pledge, promise, affirm, avow, undertake, give an undertaking, engage, commit, commit oneself, make a commitment, give one's word, give one's word of honour, give an assurance, guarantee
    depose, make a deposition, bind oneself
    plight, asseverate
    View synonyms
  • 2archaic [with object] Dedicate to someone or something, especially a deity.

    ‘I vowed myself to this enterprise’


Middle English: from Old French vou, from Latin votum (see vote); the verb is from Old French vouer.