“The cowardly lion was cowed into adopting a strictly vegetarian diet.”

What is the best definition of cow?

Check your answer!

Choice A - To use flattery or charm to win someone over
Choice B - To intimidate someone into following a course of action
Choice C - To support and encourage someone through a difficult time
Choice D - To use bribery or deceit to convince someone to do something


Cow (verb) – use intimidation to cause someone to follow (or not follow) a specific course of action; to cause someone to lose their courage or resolve

GRE pro tips:

Although the words do not share etymological roots, the verb cow can be related to the similarly sounding words courage (“bravery”) and coward (“someone who is easily intimidated”). You see, to cow means to cause someone to lose their courage or resolve. It’s commonly used, for instance, in the expression cowed into silence, which suggests that someone has been intimidated into remaining silent. Of course, it’s far easier to cow a coward than it would be to cow someone who has a lot of courage to begin with. (Although, things like war or prison can have profound psychological effects that may leave even the strongest person cowed.)

Perhaps you can remember the verb by picturing a bunch of cows (regular old bull-ies) cowing a cowardly lion being into following a strict vegan diet!

Example sentences:

“Martin Luther King was an outspoken advocate of equality and would not allow his powerful opponents to cow him into silence.”

“Years of solitary confinement left the formerly outspoken and courageous journalist cowed and broken.”