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See also: Bower



  • Etymologies 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7:
    (UK) IPA(key): /baʊ.əɹ/, /baʊəɹ/
    • (file)
    Rhymes: -aʊ.ə(ɹ), -aʊə(ɹ)
  • Etymologies 5 and 6:
    (UK) IPA(key): /bəʊ.əɹ/, /bəʊəɹ/
    • (file)
    Rhymes: -əʊə(ɹ)

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English bour, from Old English būr, from Proto-West Germanic *būr, from Proto-Germanic *būraz (room, abode). Cognate with Saterland Frisian Búur (storage room, utility room; cage), German Bauer (birdcage), Old Norse búr (cage) (Danish bur, Norwegian Bokmål bur, Swedish bur).


bower (plural bowers)

  1. A bedroom or private apartments, especially for a woman in a medieval castle.
    • c. 1572, George Gascoigne, A Lady being both wronged by false suspect, and also wounded by the durance of hir husband, doth thus bewray hir grief.:
      Give me my lute in bed now as I lie, / And lock the doors of mine unlucky bower.
  2. (literary) A dwelling; a picturesque country cottage, especially one that is used as a retreat.
    • 1748, William Shenstone, to William Lyttleton Esq.:
      While friends arrived in circles gay,
      To visit Damon's bower
    • 1818, John Keats, “Book I”, in Endymion: A Poetic Romance, London: [] [T. Miller] for Taylor and Hessey, [], →OCLC, page 3, lines 1–5:
      A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: / Its loveliness increases; it will never / Pass into nothingness; but still will keep / A bower quiet for us, and a sleep / Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
  3. A shady, leafy shelter or recess in a garden or woods.
    • 1598–1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, “Much Adoe about Nothing”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene i]:
      [] say that thou overheard'st us,
      And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
      Where honey-suckles, ripen'd by the sun,
      Forbid the sun to enter; []
    • 1979, J.G. Ballard, The Unlimited Dream Company, chapter 30:
      The entire town mated together, in the leafy bowers that had sprung up among the washing-machines and television sets in the shopping mall, on the settees and divans by the furniture store, in the tropical paradises of the suburban gardens.
    • 2022, Liam McIlvanney, The Heretic, page 444:
      The branches met overhead in a kind of bower and the three cops stood in the shade and studied the roughcast gable of the cottage, maybe fifty yards on up the hill.
  4. (ornithology) A large structure made of grass, twigs, etc., and decorated with bright objects, used by male bower birds during courtship displays.
Alternative forms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]


bower (third-person singular simple present bowers, present participle bowering, simple past and past participle bowered)

  1. To embower; to enclose.
    • c. 1591–1595, William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, act 3, scene 2, lines 80–82:
      O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell / When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend / In mortal paradise of such sweet flesh?
    • 1907, Harold Bindloss, chapter 1, in The Dust of Conflict[1]:
      [] belts of thin white mist streaked the brown plough land in the hollow where Appleby could see the pale shine of a winding river. Across that in turn, meadow and coppice rolled away past the white walls of a village bowered in orchards, []
  2. (obsolete) To lodge.
    • 1579, Immeritô [pseudonym; Edmund Spenser], “Marche. Aegloga Tertius.”, in The Shepheardes Calender: [], London: [] Hugh Singleton, [], →OCLC; reprinted as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, The Shepheardes Calender [], London: John C. Nimmo, [], 1890, →OCLC:
      Flora now calleth forth each flower,
      And bids make readie Maias bower

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English boueer, from Old English būr, ġebūr (freeholder of the lowest class, peasant, farmer) and Middle Dutch bouwer (farmer, builder, peasant); both from Proto-Germanic *būraz (dweller), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰōw- (to dwell). Cognate with German Bauer (peasant, builder), Dutch boer, buur, and Albanian burrë (man, husband). Doublet of boor and Boer. More at neighbour.


bower (plural bowers)

  1. A peasant; a farmer.

Etymology 3[edit]

From German Bauer. A doublet of etymology 2 and of the German-origin surname Bauer.


bower (plural bowers)

  1. Either of the two highest trumps in euchre.
    • 1870, Bret Harte, Plain Language from Truthful James:
      Yet the cards they were stocked / In a way that I grieve, / And my feelings were shocked / At the state of Nye's sleeve, / Which was stuffed full of aces and bowers, / And the same with intent to deceive.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 4[edit]

From the bow of a ship +‎ -er.


bower (plural bowers)

  1. (nautical) A type of ship's anchor, carried at the bow.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 5[edit]

From bow (verb) +‎ -er.


bower (plural bowers)

  1. One who bows or bends.
    • 1977, Desmond Morris, Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior, page 144:
      The bower aims his display straight at the dominant figure, who may reciprocate with a milder version of the same action.
  2. A muscle that bends a limb, especially the arm.

Etymology 6[edit]

From bow (noun) +‎ -er.


bower (plural bowers)

  1. One who plays any of several bow instruments, such as the musical bow or diddley bow.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 7[edit]

From bough, compare brancher.


bower (plural bowers)

  1. (obsolete, falconry) A young hawk, when it begins to leave the nest.

See also[edit]


bower”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.