To kowtow to people is to kneel down toward them so low that your forehead actually touches the ground.
More loosely, to kowtow to people is to act like an extremely respectful servant towards them.
Several are correct.
I prefer "KOU TOU." The syllables rhyme with each other.
Part of speech:
(Like “sleep,” “skydive,” and “succeed,” all intransitive verbs show complete action on their own and do not do action to an object. You sleep, you skydive, you succeed, and that’s it. You don’t “sleep a bed,” “skydive a plane,” or “succeed a plan”.
Likewise, someone kowtows.)
You can write this word with a hyphen if you prefer: "kow-tow."
"Kowtow" is also a noun meaning the deep bow or the servile action: talk about "the kowtow" or "someone's kowtow."
Lastly, there's kowtowing and kowtowism, and the person who kowtows is a kowtower.
You can recall the meaning and the pronunciation by singing a line from Elton John's "Sweat it Out." Note the rhymes: "Don't kowtow, don't bow down." (Scoot to 1:30 on this video to hear it.)
How to use it:
You can kowtow to someone literally, but let's focus on figurative kowtowing.
That is, say that people are kowtowing (often to someone else or to a group of people) when they're sucking up, worshiping, doing everything they're told without question, and just acting obsequious.
Sometimes you say that someone kowtows to some kind of command or idea rather than another person: "She kowtows to his every whim." "We won't kowtow to these unproven methods."
And you can leave out the "to" phrase when your meaning is clear: "How do you expect to grow as a person when all you do is kowtow?"
As you can tell, kowtowing can be annoying, degrading, regrettable, or shameful. So we often use this word in a negative sense: "no, don't kowtow," "I refuse to kowtow," "we'll never kowtow to you," etc.
I know that peer review is a necessary part of the scientific publication process... but it's sad to see someone forced to kowtow to an anonymous reviewer's endless demands for arbitrary revisions.
I have such a distaste for kowtowing that I probably would have done poorly in any job requiring obedience, following strict directions, making detailed reports to supervisors, etc.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "kowtow" means when you can explain it without saying "bow down" or "pander."
Think of a time you did your own thing rather than blindly doing what people expected, and fill in the blanks: "Rather than kowtowing to _____, I _____."
Example: "Rather than kowtowing to the cable companies, my family and I subscribe to no live TV service at all. Just Netflix."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our October game references some material that may be protected by copyright. I appreciate your understanding as I err on the side of caution by not publishing it here!
A Point Well Made:
Persian proverb: “I complained that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”
1. The opposite of KOWTOW could be
2. Creators of books and shows that kowtow to their fan base may _____.
A. elicit accusations of retconning by providing that much non-canonical information
B. actually lose them by dragging out the wait times that long for sequels and new episodes
C. eventually alienate them by giving them only what they want rather than continuing to surprise and delight them
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Today we take a look at "kowtow," our last K word. There just aren't that many K-words at all--check out how thin that section is in your dictionary. I only found 12 others worth sharing with you. Could you recall some of them? Click the links to see what they are: