Coward vs cowered

Coward and cowered are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the different meanings of the homophonic words coward and cowered, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

A coward is a person who lacks courage or who is easily frightened. A coward is held in disdain because his fear is excessive. The adjective form is cowardly, the noun form is cowardice. The word coward is derived from the Latin word cauda, which means tail. Presumably, the expression comes from the fact that an animal will turn tail or run away so that all the predator may see is its tail.

Cowered is the past tense of the verb cower, which means to crouch in fear or to shrink away in fear. Usually, one will duck one’s head and hold up one’s hands to ward off blows when cowering. The word cowered is derived from the Middle Low German word kuren, which means to lie in wait. Related words are cower, cowers, cowering.

Examples

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Donald Trump a “coward” for not wanting to wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic. (Business Insider)

Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday, while calling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “psychopath” and “coward”, said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was the production of Hitler’s Nazi party which was pushing India towards the Muslim genocide. (The Associated Press of Pakistan)

Shocking footage has been released by police showing the moment a defenceless man is savagely battered as he cowered on the floor in the street. (The Daily Mail)

Most of the Republicans in Congress have cowered in the face of the revolt by far-left demonstrators, looters and rioters. (The Aspen Daily News)