General English

  • noun the act of bending your body forwards as a greeting or sign of respect
  • noun the front part of a ship
  • noun a weapon used for shooting arrows
  • noun a long piece of wood used for playing a stringed instrument
  • noun a ribbon knotted in a shape like a butterfly
  • verb to bend your body forward as a greeting or sign of respect
  • verb to bend your head forwards


  • The longitudinal deflection of a piece of lumber, pipe, rod, or the like, usually measured at its center.


  • verb to curl or not lie flat

Origin & History of “bow”

there are three distinct words bow in English, although two of them, ‘arrow-shooter’ (OE) and ‘bend the body’ (OE), are ultimately related. Bow for arrows comes from Old English boga, which also meant more generally ‘arch’; its source was Germanic *bugon, a derivative of *bug-, the short stem of *beugan. this *beugan was also the source of Old English bōgan, antecedent of modern English bow ‘bend the body’, while the short stem lies additionally behind bright (OE) and bout (16th c.). Buxom, which originally meant ‘flexible’ and ‘obedient’, derived from bow ‘bend the body’.

The other bow ‘front of a boat’ (15th c.) was probably borrowed from Dutch boeg, a word related to English bough.