“To Cow” and “To Kow-tow”

By Maeve Maddox

Beat by the Mughals he was never cowed down by their might.
Reluctant to be cowed down, Sikhs and Hindus counter-attacked and the resulting bloodshed left the province in terrific condition.

Anticipating kow-tow to be a word unknown to speakers under fifty, I was amazed to see on the Ngram Viewer that its use tracks a stable increase from the 1880s to today, revealing a high increase in the twenty-teens.
Bottomline: The difference in between to cow and to kow-tow boils down to the distinction between to intimidate and to grovel.

Proffitt, in refusing to kow-tow to Murdoch, left HarperCollins.
He would raise no cash, kow-tow to no special interests, and usually take no detainees in an experiment in principled legislating.
Responsible, intelligent school administrators will put the trainees needs at the greatest top priority, and acknowledge that they do not require to kow-tow to every crank opinion.

It [abuse by al-Qaida] is used to frighten the residents and to try to cow the populace because location.
Syria and its allies may grow less subtle in their efforts to cow their opponents.
He would discover it similarly hard to cow the entire of the resurgent middle class.
The end of Thebes cowed Athens, leaving all of Greece momentarily at peace.

Outsiders require to speak up, considering that lots of residents seem significantly cowed.
The guys are cowed by the psychotic corporal, and an uneven sergeant is complicit.
Cowed and crushed, Jefferson accedes to his organized defeat in Havana.
University students, when cowed by militias like the Mahdi Army, are feeling freer.

Someone composing about Southeast Asia in Wikipedia follows the verb cow with an unnecessary down:.

A very odd usage of cow happens in this passage from a Politico article about a current election rally:.
The younger Trump marveled at the size of the crowd [and] held up the president as an outsider unwilling to cow to professionals and institutions …
I believe that the idiom being reached for here was not to cow, but to kow-tow.
KEEP IN MIND: Both the kow and the tow in kow-tow rhyme with cow.
Presumably, modern Chinese no longer do it, however when China had an emperor, visitants to his presence were needed to observe a ceremony including the Great Kow-tow: three kneelings and 9 prostrations before the throne. The OED defines it this method:.
kow-tow (noun): The Chinese customized of touching the ground with the forehead in the act of prostrating oneself, as an expression of extreme respect, submission, or worship.
Figuratively, a kow-tow is “an act of obsequious respect.” As a verb, to kow-tow is “to behave in an obsequious manner.”.
Here are some examples from the media:.

More regularly, the verb cow is utilized in the passive voice or as an adjective:.

The idiom to be cowed has absolutely nothing to do with Elsie the Cow, the usage of corralled in an evaluation of The Magical Chorus by Solomon Volkov in the Washington Post recommends a connection:
The culturati who would, might or must challenge it are cowed and confined.
The transitive verb cow, suggesting ” To depress with fear (Johnson); to dispirit, overawe, intimidate,” might be from an Old Norse word meaning “to require or tyrannize over.”.
Sometimes cow is used as a limited verb, but regularly it is utilized in the infinitive:.

A great deal of females let themselves be cowed into quiting their dreams since of others expectations.
Time and again, rabbis guaranteed that households were settled, or cowed into silence.

Often cowed is followed by into:.

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