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cower (verb) shrink (as from fear).
When you cower, you move backwards or bend because you are afraid of something. 'The sudden loud noise made the child cower.' This means that the sudden loud noise made the child shrink or move backwards in fear. When people hear gun shots, they cower, that is, they bend down or move backwards in fear, or for protection. 'The pupils cower under the looks of Mrs. Peterson.' This means that the pupils shrink, bend, or move backwards out of fear of their teacher.
- Henry cowered when he saw the police approach. He began to shrink in fear, and cold sweat ran down his face at the thought that they might arrest him for his guilt.
- It is the usual scene - Felix coming home late from office, his wife looking severely at him for his delay, his cowering under her looks, and she enjoying the sight of his shrinking in fear of her.