English Language

What is the real meaning of the word cowardly?

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2007-07-09 17:31:20

The word "coward" comes from an old French word coart, a

combination of the word for "tail" and an agent noun suffix. It

would therefore have meant "one with a tail" — perhaps one in the

habit of turning it, or it may be derived from a dog's habit of

putting its tail between its legs when it is afraid. Another more

clearly related word, in old French, that can be related to coward

is "couard" which literally means coward and was frequently used by

French knights in battle. It is therefore possible that the English

language was enriched in such manner through military contacts with

the French, or with the French-influenced Normans that invaded

England in 1066.

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