Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 10 15:59:45 UTC 2012

I don't find any discussion in the Archives.

OED def.:
"A reproachful designation for one who displays ignoble fear or want of
courage in the face of danger, pain, or difficulty; an ignobly
faint-hearted or pusillanimous person."
Another element, even a new sense, needs to be added: "one who commits
extraordinary treachery or violence against  defenseless persons."

I certainly noticed this meaning on 9/11, when the terrorists were roundly
denounced as "cowards," even though their treacherous acts clearly required
resolve and disdain for danger.

The recent mass killers are also automatically described as "cowards," even
though "want of courage" or "faint-heartedness" had nothing to do with
their actions. Indeed, the issue of "courage" vs. "faint-heartedness" in
these cases is arguably irrelevant.


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

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