AskDefine | Define bow

Dictionary Definition



1 a knot with two loops and loose ends; used to tie shoelaces [syn: bowknot]
2 a slightly curved piece of resilient wood with taut horsehair strands, used in playing certain stringed instrument
3 front part of a vessel or aircraft; "he pointed the bow of the boat toward the finish line" [syn: fore, prow, stem]
4 curved piece of resilient wood with taut cord to propel arrows
5 something curved in shape [syn: arc]
6 bending the head or body or knee as a sign of reverence or submission or shame [syn: bowing, obeisance]
7 an appearance by actors or performers at the end of the concert or play in order to acknowledge the applause of the audience [syn: curtain call]
8 a decorative interlacing of ribbons
9 a stroke with a curved piece of wood with taut horsehair strands that is used in playing stringed instruments


1 bend one's knee or body, or lower one's head; "He bowed before the King"; "She bowed her head in shame" [syn: bow down]
2 submit or yield to another's wish or opinion; "The government bowed to the military pressure" [syn: submit, defer, accede, give in]
3 bend the head or the upper part of the body in a gesture of respect or greeting; "He bowed before the King"
4 bend one's back forward from the waist on down; "he crouched down"; "She bowed before the Queen"; "The young man stooped to pick up the girl's purse" [syn: crouch, stoop, bend]
5 play on a string instrument

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

boga, from *|bugan-. Cognate with Dutch boog, German Bogen, Swedish båge.


  • a RP , /bəʊ/, /b@U/
  • a US , /boʊ/, /boU/
    Rhymes: -əʊ
Homophones: beau


  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 bow-shaped 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 musical bow.
  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.
weapon used for shooting arrows
bend in a rod or planar surface
rod used for playing stringed instruments
musical bow
type of knot with two loops


  1. To play music on (a stringed instrument) using a bow.
    The musician bowed his violin expertly.
to play music on using a bow

Etymology 2

bugan, from *|beugan. Cognate with Dutch buigen, German biegen.


  • , /baʊ/, /baU/
    Rhymes: -aʊ
Homophones: bough


  1. A gesture, usually showing respect, made by bending forward at the waist.
gesture made by bending forward at the waist


  1. To become bent or curved.
    The shelf bowed under the weight of the books.
  2. To bend oneself as a gesture of respect or deference.
  3. To make something bend or curve.
  4. To debut.
to become bent
to bend oneself as a gesture of respect or deference
to bend a thing
  • Chinese traditional/simplified: 弄彎, 弄彎 (nòng wān)
  • Danish: bøje
  • Dutch: buigen
  • Finnish: taivuttaa
  • French: courber
  • Hebrew: לכופף (le'khofef)
  • Icelandic: beygja, sveigja
  • Italian: curvare, piegare
  • Polish: zgiąć
  • Russian: гнуть (gnút’)
  • Spanish: doblar
  • West Frisian: bûge

Etymology 3


  • , /baʊ/, /baU/
    Rhymes: -aʊ
Homophones: bough


  1. The front of a boat or ship.
Derived terms
front of a boat or ship

Extensive Definition

Bow is an English heteronym; it may refer to:
  1. Bow (weapon) (pronounced boʊ), an archery weapon that uses elasticity to propel arrows
  2. Bow (social) (pronounced baʊ), to lower the head or the upper body
  3. Bow (ship) (pronounced baʊ), the foremost point of the hull of a ship or boat
It may also refer to:

Multisenses of the first meaning

Other homonyms

  • Bow Bells (pronounced boʊ), church bells within hearing range of which Cockneys traditionally originate (after St. Mary-le-Bow)
  • Bow collector (pronounced baʊ), an electric pick-up device for trains and trams (from German Bügel))


  • Best of Winners (BOW), a designation achieved by dogs at a conformation show
  • B.O.W. for Bio-Organic Weapon - a creature created due to exposure of a viral agent in the Resident Evil series


Other uses

See also

bow in Modern Greek (1453-): Τόξο
bow in Spanish: Arco
bow in French: BOW
bow in Dutch: Boog
bow in Japanese: BOW

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

A string, Amati, Cremona, D string, E string, G string, S-curve, Strad, Stradivari, Stradivarius, accost, address, angle, arc, arch, bass, bass viol, beak, bend, bend back, bend the knee, bend the neck, bend to, bending, bending the knee, bilge, bite the dust, blain, bleb, blister, blob, bob, bob a curtsy, bob down, bootlick, boss, bow, bow and scrape, bow down, bow the head, bow to, bowing, bowing and scraping, bowsprit, bridge, bubble, bulb, bulge, bull fiddle, bulla, bump, bunch, burl, button, cahot, capitulate, carriage bow, catacaustic, catenary, caustic, cave in, cello, chine, circle, clump, conchoid, condyle, conflexure, contrabass, convex, cower, crawl, creep, cringe, cringe to, crook, crossbow, crouch, crouch before, crowd, curl, curtsy, curvation, curvature, curve, decurve, defer, deflect, deflection, diacaustic, dipping the colors, do homage, do obeisance, dome, double bass, dowel, duck, ear, ellipse, embow, embrace, fall, fall down before, fawn, festoon, fiddle, fiddlebow, fiddlestick, figurehead, fingerboard, flange, flap, flatter, flection, flex, flexure, forecastle, foredeck, forepeak, gall, geanticline, genuflect, genuflection, geosyncline, gnarl, go down, go under, greeting, grovel, hail, hairpin turn, hand-clasp, handle, handshake, have enough, hello, hill, homage, hook, how-do-you-do, hug, hump, hunch, hyperbola, inclination, incurvate, incurve, inflect, inflection, jib boom, jog, joggle, kiss, kit, kit fiddle, kit violin, kneel, kneel to, kneeling, knob, knot, knuckle, knuckle to, knuckle under, knur, knurl, kowtow, lick the dust, lickspittle, lip, lituus, longbow, loop, lose, lose out, lose the day, lump, make a leg, make a reverence, make obeisance, making a leg, meander, mole, mountain, nevus, nod, nose, nub, nubbin, nubble, obeisance, obsequiousness, oxbow, papilloma, parabola, peg, play violin, presenting arms, prore, prostration, prow, recurve, reflect, reflection, reflex, retroflex, reverence, rib, ridge, ring, rostrum, round, sag, salaam, salutation, salute, saw, say uncle, scrape, scroll, servility, shoulder, sinus, smile, smile of recognition, soundboard, spine, squat, standing at attention, stem, stoop, string, stud, style, submission, submissiveness, submit, succumb, supination, swag, sweep, tab, take the count, tenor violin, toadeat, toady, tracery, truckle, truckle to, tubercle, tubercule, tumble, tuning peg, turn, turning, vault, verruca, vesicle, viola, violin, violinette, violoncello, violoncello piccolo, violone, violotta, wale, wart, wave, welt, wind
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