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From Middle English, from Old French vut, from Latin votum ‎(a promise, dedication, vow), from vovere ‎(to promise, vow).



vow ‎(plural vows)

  1. A solemn promise to perform some act, or behave in a specified manner, especially a promise to live and act in accordance with the rules of a religious order.
    The old hermit, up in the mountains, took a vow of silence.
  2. A declaration or assertion.
    • 2013 June 14, Sam Leith, “Where the profound meets the profane”, The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 1, page 37: 
      Swearing doesn't just mean what we now understand by "dirty words". It is entwined, in social and linguistic history, with the other sort of swearing: vows and oaths. Consider for a moment the origins of almost any word we have for bad language – "profanity", "curses", "oaths" and "swearing" itself.

Usage notes[edit]

  • One normally makes or takes a vow, or simply vows (see below).
  • Commonly mentioned vows include those of silence, obedience, poverty, chastity, and celibacy.
  • 'to keep/pay/fulfill a vow' = to honor a vow
  • 'to break a vow' = to dishonor a vow


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vow ‎(third-person singular simple present vows, present participle vowing, simple past and past participle vowed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To make a vow; to promise.
    • Bible, Eccl. v. 4
      When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it.
    • Richard Baxter
      We do not vow that we will never sin, nor neglect a duty (nor ought we to do so).
  2. (transitive) To make a vow regarding (something).
    The wronged woman vowed revenge.
  3. To declare publicly that one has made a vow, usually to show one's determination or to announce an act of retaliation.
    The rebels vowed to continue their fight.


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