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Cowardice

136. Cowardice (See also Boastfulness, Timidity.)

  1. Acres, Bob a swaggerer lacking in courage. [Br. Lit.: The Rivals ]
  2. Bobadill, Captain vainglorious braggart, vaunts achievements while rationalizing faintheartedness. [Br. Lit.: Every Man in His Humour ]
  3. chicken slang insult used toward the timid. [Western Folklore: Jobes, 322]
  4. Conachar pathetically lacks courage. [Br. Lit.: The Fair Maid of Perth ]
  5. Coup de Jarnac to hit a man while he is down. [Fr. Folklore: Espy, 62]
  6. Cowardly Lion king of the forest has yellow streak up back. [Am. Lit.: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz ]
  7. Duke of Plaza-Toro always leads the retreat and is the first to hide from the enemy. [Br. Opera: Gilbert and Sullivan The Gondoliers ]
  8. Falstaff, Sir John the better part of valor is discretion. [Br. Lit.: I Henry IV ]
  9. Fleming, Henry young recruit, in his first battle, runs away in terror. [Am. Lit.: Stephen Crane The Red Badge of Courage ]
  10. Indiana Volunteers during Mexican war, ran when action began. [Am. Hist.: Espy, 183]
  11. Martano poltroon claiming credit for anothers feat. [Ital. Lit.: Orlando Furioso ]
  12. Panurge rogue who in several adventures proves to be a great coward. [Fr. Lit.: Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel ]
  13. Panza, Sancho always removes himself a safe distance from his masters combats. [Span. Lit.: Cervantes Don Quixote ]
  14. Police, the homeloving and fearful of death, reluctant to combat the pirate band. [Br. Opera: Gilbert and Sullivan The Pirates of Penzance ]
  15. Rogues March played in British Army to expel dishonored soldier. [Br. Music: Scholes, 885]
  16. Roister Doister, Ralph foolish suitor repulsed by widow with household utensil. [Br. Lit.: Ralph Roister Doister ]
  17. Scaramouche stock character in commedia dellarte; boastful poltroon. [Ital. Drama: Brewer Dictionary, 967]
  18. yellow color symbolizing cowardice. [Western Culture: Misc.]

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Cowardice

102. Cowardice

See also 41. BEHAVIOR ; 156. FEAR

invertebracy
the state or quality of being without a backbone, hence, metaphorically, spinelessness; lack of strength of character.
poltroonery
cowardice; cowardly behavior. poltroon , n. poltroonish , adj.
pusillanimity
a cowardly, irresolute, or fainthearted condition. pusillanimous , adj.
recreancy
cowardice, treason, or disloyalty. recreant , n., adj.

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cowardice

cow·ard·ice / ˈkou-ərdəs/ • n. lack of bravery.

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Cowardice

Cowardice

of curs-Bk. of St. Albans, 1486.

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cowardice

cowardiceabyss, amiss, bis, bliss, Chris, Diss, hiss, kiss, Majlis, miss, piss, reminisce, sis, Swiss, this, vis •dais •Powys, prowess •loess, Lois •Lewes, lewis •abbess • ibis •Anubis, pubis •cannabis • arabis • duchess • purchase •caddis, Gladys •Candice •Sardis, Tardis •vendace • Charybdis •bodice, goddess •demigoddess • Aldiss • jaundice •de profundis • prejudice • hendiadys •cowardice • stewardess • preface •Memphis • aphis • edifice • benefice •orifice • artifice • office •surface, surface-to-surface •undersurface • haggis • aegis •burgess •clerkess, Theodorákis •Colchis

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Cowardice

COWARDICE

Cowardice is a vice opposed to fortitude or courage by way of defect. Fortitude, one of the moral vir tues, moderates the passions or emotions of fear and daring, i.e., those emotions concerned with an evil, difficult but possible to overcome. Some theologians argue that there are four vices opposed to fortitude: cowardice (ignavia, vecordia ), which, taken most strictly, implies a lack of daring; foolhardiness, or audacity, which is an excess of daring; timidity, which is an excess of fear; and fearlessness, which is the absence of reasonable fear. Others, following St. thomas aquinas, argue that it is natural for man to have daring with regard to an object harmful to him, unless he is restrained by fear. In other words, a man does not lack daring except through excessive fear. Hence, timidity, or excessive fear, and cowardice, or lack of daring, are not distinct vices, but are two names or aspects of the same vice opposed to fortitude. Even those who hold that they are distinct vices would admit that the terms are often used interchangeably.

The fear involved in timidity or cowardice is not simply the emotion of fear, for the emotions as such are morally indifferent. Rather it is an inordinate fear. In every sinful act some element of fear is present: the miser fears the loss of money, the slothful man fears the effort required for spiritual progress, the envious man fears the good of his neighbor. Timidity or cowardice is concerned with the arduous good, but it shrinks from the effort. Just as fortitude is properly concerned with great dangers, especially the danger of death, so cowardice or timidity, properly speaking, is an excess of fear and a lack of daring with regard to these dangers. Cowardice is sometimes used, however, in a wider sense for excessive fears about lesser matters. To conquer cowardice does not mean the total exclusion of fear, but rather the control of fear so that it does not impede an individual from doing his duty.

Timidity or cowardice as such is venially sinful, but it becomes mortal, or is the cause of mortal sin, if it leads one to transgress the law of God in some serious way.

Since the opportunities for exercising fortitude in the strict sense are limited, one should accustom himself to acting courageously in small matters and thus prepare himself for greater tests in which he might otherwise be overcome by cowardice. Meditation on the greatness of divine gifts, on the Passion of Christ, and on the courageous action of Our Lady and the martyrs is a strong incentive to overcome temptations to cowardice.

Bibliography: thomas aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 2a2ae, 125, 127. f. de vitoria, Comentarios a la Secunda secundae de Santo Tomás, ed. v. beltran de heredia, 5 v. (Salamanca 193235) 5:377378. p. lumbreras, De fortitudine et temperantia (Rome 1939) 3437. j. pieper, Fortitude and Temperance, tr. d. f. coogan (New York 1954). r. a. gauthier, "Fortitude," The Virtues and States of Life, ed. a. m. henry, tr. r. j. olsen and g. t. lennon (Theology Library 4; Chicago 1956) 487531.

[j. hennessey]

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