From Middle English prowesse, prouwesse, proues, prouesce, prouesse (“bravery in battle; act of bravery; excellence; nobility of character; intelligence”), from Old French proeche, proesce, proeësche (“goodness; excellence; bravery”), from Old French preu, prou, prouz, proz, pruz (“good; excellent; brave”). Compare English proud.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈpɹaʊɪs/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈpɹaʊəs/
- Hyphenation: prow‧ess
- (uncountable) Skillfulness and manual ability; adroitness or dexterity.
1888 October 14, Ambrose Bierce, “An Unfinished Race”, in The San Francisco Examiner, OCLC 780100842; republished in Can Such Things Be?, Washington, D.C.: The Neale Publishing Company, 1903, OCLC 925845300, page 313:
- When in liquor he would make foolish wagers. On one of these too frequent occasions he was boasting of his prowess as a pedestrian and athlete, and the outcome was a match against nature. For a stake of one sovereign he undertook to run all the way to Coventry and back, a distance of something more than forty miles.
2017 November 10, Daniel Taylor, “Youthful England earn draw with Germany but Lingard rues late miss”, in The Guardian, London, archived from the original on 28 March 2018:
- There is such a sense of inferiority sometimes when it comes to facing Germany, with all their World Cups, their penalty prowess and easy sophistication, it might come as a surprise to learn that, in head-to-head encounters, England actually match their opponents.
- (uncountable) Distinguished bravery or courage, especially in battle; heroism.
1593, Tho[mas] Nashe, “A Dash through the Dudgen Sonnet against Greene”, in The Apologie of Pierce Pennilesse. Or, Strange Newes, of the Intercepting Certaine Letters: And a Conuoy of Verses, as They were Going Priuilie to Victuall the Lowe Countries, Printed at London: By Iohn Danter, dwelling in Hosse-Lane neere Holburne Conduit, OCLC 222196160; republished as John Payne Collier, editor, Strange Newes, of the Intercepting Certaine Letters and a Convoy of Verses, as They were Going Privilie the[sic] Victuall the Lowe Countries (Miscellaneous Tracts; Temp. Eliz. and Jac. I), [London: s.n., 1870], OCLC 906587369, page 33:
- That libertie Poets of late in their invectives have exceeded: they have borne their ſword up where it is not lawfull for a poynado, that is but the page of proweſſe, to intermeddle.
1863, Homer; T[homas] S[tarling] Norgate, transl., The Odyssey; or, The Ten Years’ Wandering of Odusseus, after the Ten Years’ Siege of Troy. Reproduced in Dramatic Blank Verse, London: Williams and Norgate, 14, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London; and 20, South Frederick Street, Edinburgh, OCLC 559689778, page 158:
- […] But, wroth because this man in full assembly, / Came and reviled thee, thou wouldst shew thy prowess, / The prowess that attends thee, that henceforth / Not e'er a man might think to scorn thy prowess, […]
1910, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “England, Awake!”, in Poems of Experience, London: Gay & Hancock, Ltd., 12 and 13 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, published 1917, OCLC 4691195, page 38; republished as More Poems, Toronto, Ont.: McClelland & Stewart Publishers, 1919, OCLC 470632416, stanza 1, page 246:
- A beautiful great lady, past her prime, / Behold her dreaming in her easy chair; / Grey robed, and veiled, in laces old and rare, / Her smiling eyes see but the vanished time / Of splendid prowess, and of deeds sublime.
- (countable) An act of prowess.
- An act of adroitness or dexterity.
1869 July, “Art. VI.—Memoir of Sir William Hamilton, Bart., Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in the University of Edinburgh. By John Veitch, M.A., Professor of Logic and Rhetoric in the University of Glasgow. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1869.”, in The North British Review, volume L, number C, Edinburgh: Edmonston & Douglas, OCLC 3658824, page 493:
- I recollect hearing […] of his [Sir William Hamilton's] simple, independent, meditative habits, ruggedly athletic modes of exercise, fondness for his big dog, etc. etc.: […] I did not witness, much less share in, any of the swimming or other athletic prowesses.
2007, Christopher Hodapp, “From Darkness to Light”, in Richard Harris, editor, Solomon’s Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington, D.C., Berkeley, Calif.: Ulysses Press, →ISBN, pages 35–36:
- As the Middle Ages drew to a close and the Renaissance rose like a new sun, knowledge of philosophy and the sciences became objects of interest to a nobility that had once held only skill in battle as a prowess worth attaining.
- An act of distinguished bravery or courage; a heroic deed.
1485 July 31, Thomas Malory, “Capitulum viij”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book V, [London]: Enprynted and fynysshed in thabbey Westmestre [by William Caxton], OCLC 71490786, leaf 87, recto; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur by Syr Thomas Malory; the Original Edition of William Caxton Now Reprinted and Edited with an Introduction and Glossary by H. Oskar Sommer, Ph.D.; with an Essay on Malory’s Prose Style by Andrew Lang, London: Published by David Nutt, in the Strand, 1889, OCLC 890162034, lines 11–15, page 173:
1851, Charles Fourier; Hugh Doherty, transl., “Ulterlogue”, in The Passions of the Human Soul, and Their Influence on Society and Civilization. [...] Translated from the French, with Critical Annotations, a Biography of Fourier, and a General Introduction. [...] In Two Volumes, volume II, London: Hippolyte Bailliere, 219, Regent Street, OCLC 937887148, page 88:
- If it is deemed of so much importance, why has no attention been paid to the effects of general friendship, such as certain military prowesses, in which you see a portion of a regiment sacrifice itself in support of another portion?
- An act of adroitness or dexterity.
- prowessed (adjective)
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