Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of bow
Meaning of bow by Wiktionary Dictionary


    Etymology 1

    From Old English boga, from Proto-Germanic *bugô. Cognate with Dutch boog, German Bogen, Swedish båge, Danish bue .


    • ( RP ) enPR: bō, IPA: /bəʊ/, X-SAMPA: /b@U/
    • ( US ) enPR: bō, IPA: /boʊ/, X-SAMPA: /boU/
    • Rhymes: -əʊ
    • Homophone: beau


    a bow ( 1 )

    bow ( plural: bows )

    1. A weapon made of a curved piece of wood or other flexible material whose ends are connected by a string, used for shooting arrows .
    2. A curved bend in a rod or planar surface, or in a linear formation such as a river ( see oxbow ) .
    3. A rod with horsehair ( or an artificial substitute ) stretched between the ends, used for playing various stringed musical instruments .
    4. A stringed instrument, similar to the item described above .
    5. A type of knot with two loops, used to tie together two cords such as shoelaces or apron strings, and frequently used as decoration, such as in gift-wrapping .
    Derived terms


    bow ( third-person singular simple present bows present participle bowing, simple past and past participle bowed )

    1. To play music on ( a stringed instrument ) using a bow .
      The musician bowed his violin expertly .
    2. ( intransitive ) To become bent or curved .
      The shelf bowed under the weight of the books .
    3. ( transitive ) To make something bend or curve .
    4. ( intransitive ) To premiere .
      Cronenberg’s "Cosmopolis" bows in Cannes this week .

    Etymology 2

    From Old English būgan, from Proto-Germanic *beuganan. Cognate with Dutch buigen, German biegen .


    • enPR: bou, IPA: /baʊ/, X-SAMPA: /baU/
    • Rhymes: -aʊ
    • Homophone: bough


    bow ( plural: bows )

    1. A gesture, usually showing respect, made by bending forward at the waist .
      He bowed politely as he entered the room .
    2. A debut
      The new product will make its bow on the world market this summer .


    bow ( third-person singular simple present bows present participle bowing, simple past and past participle bowed )

    1. ( intransitive ) To bend oneself as a gesture of respect or deference.
    2. ( transitive and intransitive ) To debut.
    3. ( intransitive ) To defer ( to something ) .
      I bow to your better judgement in the matter .
    Derived terms

    Etymology 3

    Low German


    • enPR: bou, IPA: /baʊ/, X-SAMPA: /baU/
    • Rhymes: -aʊ
    • Homophone: bough


    The bow of a ship.

    bow ( plural: bows )

    1. ( nautical ) The front of a boat or ship .
    • ( of a ship ): prow
    • ( of a ship ): poop, stern
    Derived terms

    See also


    • WBO

Explanation of bow by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. yield to another's wish or opinion

    2. The government bowed to the military pressure
    3. bend one's knee or body, or lower one's head

    4. He bowed before the King
      She bowed her head in shame
    5. play on a string instrument with a bow

    6. bend the head or the upper part of the body in a gesture of respect or greeting

    7. He bowed before the King
    8. bend one's back forward from the waist on down

    9. She bowed before the Queen
    1. a stroke with a curved piece of wood with taut horsehair strands that is used in playing stringed instruments

    2. a slightly curved piece of resilient wood with taut horsehair strands

    3. a weapon for shooting arrows, composed of a curved piece of resilient wood with a taut cord to propel the arrow

    4. front part of a vessel or aircraft

    5. he pointed the bow of the boat toward the finish line
    6. a knot with two loops and loose ends

    7. a decorative interlacing of ribbons

    8. an appearance by actors or performers at the end of the concert or play in order to acknowledge the applause of the audience

    9. bending the head or body or knee as a sign of reverence or submission or shame or greeting

    10. something curved in shape

    Definition of bow by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Bow ( bou ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Bowed ( ); p. pr. & vb. n. Bowing.] [OE. bowen, bogen, bugen, AS. būgan ( generally v. i. ); akin to D. buigen, OHG. biogan, G. biegen, beugen, Icel. boginn bent, beygja to bend, Sw. böja, Dan. böie, bugne, Coth. biugan; also to L. fugere to flee, Gr. , and Skr. bhuj to bend. √88. Cf. Fugitive.]

      1. To cause to deviate from straightness; to bend; to inflect; to make crooked or curved.

      We bow things the contrary way, to make them come to their natural straightness. Milton.

      The whole nation bowed their necks to the worst kind of tyranny. Prescott.

      2. To exercise powerful or controlling influence over; to bend, figuratively; to turn; to incline.

      Adversities do more bow men's minds to religion. Bacon.

      Not to bow and bias their opinions. Fuller.

      3. To bend or incline, as the head or body, in token of respect, gratitude, assent, homage, or condescension.

      They came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him. 2 Kings ii. 15.

      4. To cause to bend down; to prostrate; to depress,; to crush; to subdue.

      Whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave. Shak.

      5. To express by bowing; as, “to bow one's thanks”.

    2. Bow ( bou ), v. i.
      1. To bend; to curve. [Obs.]

      2. To stop. [Archaic]

      They stoop, they bow down together. Is. xlvi. 2

      3. To bend the head, knee, or body, in token of reverence or submission; -- often with down.

      O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. Ps. xcv. 6.

      4. To incline the head in token of salutation, civility, or assent; to make bow.

      Admired, adored by all circling crowd,

      For wheresoe'er she turned her face, they bowed. Dryden.

    3. Bow ( bou ), n. An inclination of the head, or a bending of the body, in token of reverence, respect, civility, or submission; an obeisance; as, “a bow of deep humility”.

    4. Bow ( bō ), n. [OE. bowe, boge, AS. boga, fr. AS. būgan to bend; akin to D. boog, G. bogen, Icel. bogi. See Bow, v. t.]

      1. Anything bent, or in the form of a curve, as the rainbow.

      I do set my bow in the cloud. Gen. ix. 13.

      2. A weapon made of a strip of wood, or other elastic material, with a cord connecting the two ends, by means of which an arrow is propelled.

      3. An ornamental knot, with projecting loops, formed by doubling a ribbon or string.

      4. The U-shaped piece which embraces the neck of an ox and fastens it to the yoke.

      5. ( Mus. ) An appliance consisting of an elastic rod, with a number of horse hairs stretched from end to end of it, used in playing on a stringed instrument.

      6. An arcograph.

      7. ( Mech. & Manuf. ) Any instrument consisting of an elastic rod, with ends connected by a string, employed for giving reciprocating motion to a drill, or for preparing and arranging the hair, fur, etc., used by hatters.

      8. ( Naut. ) A rude sort of quadrant formerly used for taking the sun's altitude at sea.

      9. ( Saddlery ) sing. or pl. Two pieces of wood which form the arched forward part of a saddletree.

      Bow bearer ( O. Eng. Law ), an under officer of the forest who looked after trespassers. -- Bow drill, a drill worked by a bow and string. -- Bow instrument ( Mus. ), any stringed instrument from which the tones are produced by the bow. -- Bow window ( Arch. ) See Bay window. -- To draw a long bow, to lie; to exaggerate. [Colloq.]

    5. Bow ( bō ), v. i. [imp. & p. p. Bowed ( ); p. pr. & vb. n. Bowing.] To play ( music ) with a bow. -- v. i. To manage the bow.

    6. Bow ( bō ), n. [Icel. bōgr shoulder, bow of a ship. See Bough.]

      1. ( Naut. ) The bending or rounded part of a ship forward; the stream or prow.

      2. ( Naut. ) One who rows in the forward part of a boat; the bow oar.

      Bow chaser ( Naut. ), a gun in the bow for firing while chasing another vessel. Totten.

      -- Bow piece, a piece of ordnance carried at the bow of a ship. -- On the bow ( Naut. ), on that part of the horizon within 45° on either side of the line ahead. Totten.