kowtow

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English[edit]

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Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Sinitic 叩頭 (Cantonese kau3 tau4, Mandarin kòutóu), literally "knock head".

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

kowtow (third-person singular simple present kowtows, present participle kowtowing, simple past and past participle kowtowed)

  1. (intransitive) To kneel and bow low enough to touch one’s forehead to the ground.
    • 2013, Wendy Swartz, Robert Ford Campany, Yang Lu, Jessey J. C. Choo, Early Medieval China: A Sourcebook, Columbia University Press (ISBN 9780231531009), page 645
      When the weather turned cold, the tears that he shed would become frozen like veins; the blood on his forehead from kowtowing would also freeze and would not drip.
  2. (intransitive) To bow very deeply.
    (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  3. (intransitive, figuratively) To act in a very submissive manner.
    • 2015, Oleg V. Khlevniuk, Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator, Yale University Press (ISBN 9780300163889), page 265
      The letter to Razin contained another thought that preoccupied Stalin in the first months after the war: the need to avoid “kowtowing to the West,” including showing “unwarranted respect” for the “military authorities of Germany.”

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

kowtow (plural kowtows)

  1. The act of kowtowing.
    • 1990, Hugh D. R. Baker, Hong Kong Images: People and Animals, Hong Kong University Press (ISBN 9789622092556), page 93
      Three elders dressed in their long silk ceremonial gowns perform the kowtow before the altar in their clan ancestral hall.

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]


Portuguese[edit]

Noun[edit]

kowtow m (plural kowtows)

  1. kowtow (bow low enough to touch one’s forehead to the ground)