What does kowtow mean?

Definitions for kowtowˈkaʊˈtaʊ, -ˌtaʊ, ˈkoʊ-

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word kowtow.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. kowtow, kotow(verb)

    a former Chinese custom of touching the ground with the forehead as a sign of respect or submission

  2. scrape, kowtow, genuflect(verb)

    bend the knees and bow in a servile manner

  3. fawn, toady, truckle, bootlick, kowtow, kotow, suck up(verb)

    try to gain favor by cringing or flattering

    "He is always kowtowing to his boss"


  1. Kowtow(v. i.)

    To defer to another in a servile or humiliating manner; to act obsequiously.


  1. kowtow(Noun)

    The act of kowtowing.

  2. kowtow(Verb)

    To kneel and bow low enough to touch oneu2019s forehead to the ground.

  3. kowtow(Verb)

    To bow very deeply.

  4. kowtow(Verb)

    To act in a very submissive manner.

  5. Origin: From 叩頭 / 叩头 (kau3 tau4) kau3 ‘knock’ + tau4 ‘head’; Chinese 叩頭 / 叩头 (kòutóu) kòu ‘knock’ + tóu ‘head’.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Kowtow

    the same as Kotow

  2. Origin: [Chinese, knock head.]


  1. Kowtow

    Kowtow, which is borrowed from kòu tóu in Mandarin Chinese, is the act of deep respect shown by prostration, that is, kneeling and bowing so low as to have one's head touching the ground. An alternative Chinese term is ketou, however the meaning is somewhat altered: kòu has the general meaning of knock, whereas kē has the general meaning of "touch upon", tóu meaning head. In Han Chinese culture, the kowtow is the highest sign of reverence. It was widely used to show reverence for one's elders, superiors, and especially the Emperor, as well as for religious and cultural objects of worship. In modern times, usage of the kowtow has become much reduced.


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of kowtow in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of kowtow in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Sample Sentences & Example Usage

  1. Jim Dean:

    Clinton's economic policy speech reflects a very clear understanding that the Democratic Party and the vast majority of the American people want a president who will fight alongside … Elizabeth Warren and refuse to kowtow to wealthy and powerful interests on Wall Street.

Images & Illustrations of kowtow

  1. kowtowkowtowkowtow

Translations for kowtow

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • سجد, تملق, ركعArabic
  • knien, Kotau, zu Kreuze kriechenGerman
  • prosternarse, postrarseSpanish
  • kumarrella, tehdä, nöyristellä, kumarrus, kumartaa, syväänFinnish
  • s'agenouiller, kowtow, se prosternerFrench
  • 叩頭, 土下座, 叩頭くJapanese
  • 고두, 머리를 조아리다Korean
  • zich, zijn, buiging, kotau, buigen, aanpassen, onderdanig, diep, knielenDutch
  • kowtowNorwegian
  • делать коутоу, преклоняться, поклон, раболепствовать, коутоу, делать низкий поклон, пресмыкатьсяRussian
  • koutouSwedish
  • quỳ lạy, khúm núm, khấu đầu, quỵ luỵVietnamese

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"kowtow." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 19 Mar. 2018. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/kowtow>.

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