[Ads-l] coward

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 18 00:15:38 UTC 2019

Some years ago I noted that "hero" has come to be applied to victims of
senseless violence.

"Coward" has expanded also, perhaps relatively recently.  OED recognizes
only the sense of (roughly) 'person who is afraid of danger.'

I first became aware of another sense when the 9/11 hijackers were
described that very day as "cowards," even though they clearly were not
afraid of danger.  Since then other terrorists and killers have been
routinely described as "cowards" - meaning "a vicious person who acts

Here is a good ex.:


The photo of SS officer and war criminal Joachim Peiper appeared on the
Facebook pages of the Army’s 10 Mountain Division, the XVIII Airborne Corps
and the Department of Defense on Monday. Peiper, who is clearly wearing a
Nazi SS uniform in the photo, is responsible for the massacre of 84 U.S.
prisoners of war.  ... [I]t still isn’t entirely clear who is responsible
for what appears to be an intentional display of a Nazi coward.

Peiper served 12 years in prison for war crimes, but he was not a coward in
the recognized sense.


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

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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