When you hear the word cowed we hope that your mind does not immediately go to the delicious milk derived from a cow. There is practically no relationship between the animal cow and cowed which is the past participle of a different type of cow.

Cowed is an Adjective (comparative more cowed, superlative most cowed) which basically means frightened into submission or to cause (someone) to submit to one’s wishes by intimidation. It can also be used a verb and has possible origins from Scandinavia or the Danish kue, which is to subdue.

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Synonyms of cowed include; appall, bludgeon, bully, daunt, dishearten, embarrass, faze, frighten, rattle, strong-arm, subdue, terrorize, unnerve, abash, awe, bluster, buffalo, bulldoze, discomfit, disconcert, dismay, dragoon, enforce, hector, overawe, scare, showboat, lean on, push around, turn on the heat, walk heavy etc.

The word does not feature in the active vocabulary of a lot of people but it can be a fun word to use. Take this quote by Oswald Spengler for example;

“To-day we live so cowed under the bombardment of this intellectual artillery that hardly anyone can attain to the inward detachment that is required for a clear view of the monstrous drama. The will-to-power operating under a pure democratic disguise has finished off its masterpiece so well that the object’s sense of freedom is actually flattered by the most thorough-going enslavement that has ever existed.”

Here are some sentence examples of cowed courtesy of Wiktionary;

  • The papal threats were now too urgent to be disregarded, and the cowed Signory entreated Savonarola to put an end to his sermons.
  • The Landtag of Brandenburg was not cowed so easily into submission, but an increase of revenue was obtained, and the stubborn struggle which ensued in Prussia ended in a victory for the ruler.

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  • This vigorous action on the part of the king seems to have cowed all Warbeck’s supporters on English soil.
  • His organ United Ireland declared that the new courts must be cowed into giving satisfactory decisions.
  • Cowed by the show of armed force, and remembering the fate of Hastings, the two assemblies received the claim with silence which gave consent.

  • Already before Warbeck’s arrival Poynings had arrested the Earl of Kildare, Simn.els old supporter, cowed some of the Irish by military force, and bought over others by promises of subsidies and pensions.
  • The cowed inhabitants had been trained out of all habit of acting for themselves by the imperial despotism, and could only flee or submit
  • The father was manifestly a man of great energy who cowed his unruly nobles by murder, forced the Orospedans to recognize his superiority, swept away the Suevic kingdom which had lingered in the north-west, and checked the raids of the Basques.
  • When Danton was arrested, Legendre at first defended him, but was soon cowed and withdrew his defense.
  • The mutineers were completely cowed; the king of Delhi was taken and reserved for trial; and his sons were shot by Catain Hodson, after unconditional surrender, an act which has since been the theme of much reprobation, but which commended itself at the time to Hodson’s comrades as wise and justifiable.
  • For the moment the Jews were cowed, and next day they went submissively to greet the troops coming from Caesarea.
  • The upper classes are said to have suffered less than the poor, but the king’s daughter Joan and two archbishops of Canterbury were among the victims. The long continuance of the Visitation, which as a rule took six or nine months to work out its virulence in any particular spot, seems to have cowed and demoralized society.

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  • They were good fighters until they were cowed by the treatment of the Russians, who practically reduced them to slavery.Enclosed by Hanriot’s troops and thoroughly cowed, the Convention decreed the arrest of the Committee of Twelve and of twenty-two principal Girondins.
  • Enclosed by Hanriot’s troops and thoroughly cowed, the Convention decreed the arrest of the Committee of Twelve and of twenty-two principal Girondins.
  • His subjects remained faithful to him for a good while, as he put an end to the Norman invasions which had desolated the kingdom for two centuries, and cowed those barbarians, much to the benefit of France.The wild tribes of the Caucasus were cowed by the Roman arms, and
  • The wild tribes of the Caucasus were cowed by the Roman arms, and Mithradates himself fled across the Black Sea to Panticapaeum (modern Kertch).
  • They were cowed, as they said, by that disciple and limb of the fiend called La Pucelle, that used false enchantments and sorcery.