Nehama (med_cat) wrote in 1word1day,
Nehama
med_cat
1word1day

Friday word: Kowtow

Language of origin: Chinese

About the Word:

To "kowtow" is to agree too easily or eagerly to do what someone else wants you to do, or to obey someone with power in a way that seems weak.

It comes from the Chinese kòutóukòu ("to knock") plus tóu ("head") – and originally referred to kneeling and touching one's head to the ground as a salute or act of worship to a revered authority.

In traditional China, this ritual was performed by commoners making requests to the local magistrate, by the emperor to the shrine of Confucius, or by foreign representatives appearing before the emperor to establish trade relations.

In the late 18th century, some Western nations resisted performing the ritual, which acknowledged the Chinese emperor as the "son of heaven."

The noun arrived in English in the early 1800s, and within a few decades had taken on the "fawn" or "suck up" verb meaning we use today.

(From Merriam-Webster Online Top Ten list of favourite words from foreign languages)

Tags: chinese, k, verb, wordsmith: med_cat
Subscribe

  • Sunday Word: Sonorous

    sonorous[s uh- nawr- uhs, - nohr-, son-er- uhs] adjective: 1 giving out or capable of giving out a sound, especially a deep, resonant sound,…

  • Sunday Word: Interlocutor

    interlocutor[in-ter- lok-y uh-ter] noun: 1 one who takes part in dialogue or conversation 2 the performer in a minstrel show who is placed…

  • Wednesday Word: Déraciné

    Déraciné - noun or adjective. You may know déraciné as the title of a video game, but this French word can also be used as an adjective or noun.…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Comments allowed for members only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 2 comments