Clip Art Handmade Nesting Dolls


Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.


Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Jul 28, 2006 11:05 pm

• kowtow •

Pronunciation: kaw-taw • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: 1. To prostrate yourself before someone as a sign of complete submission. 2. To completely and obsequiously submit to the will of someone else, to servilely fulfill the wishes of another.

Notes: No, today's Good Word has nothing to do with animals of the bovine persuasion. It is spelled with a K and comes from Mandarin Chinese, as the Word History will show. The participle kowtowing may be used as an adjective and an action noun (His kowtowing to the boss unnerves me). A person guilty of kowtowing is a kowtower (not to be confused with a stack of cows, which would be a cow-tower, something rarely seen these days in North America).

In Play: Kowtowing is not a popular activity in the US but we all bump into it from time to time: "If Ben Dover thinks that kowtowing to the boss is going to help him get ahead in this company, he is sadly mistaken." Kowtowing should not be misconstrued as affection: "Poor Parker Carr thinks that kowtowing to Candy Cain will win her heart."

Word History: Today's word comes from Mandarin Chinese kòu tóu "a prostrate bow" from kòu "to strike" + tóu "head." Such bows were traditionally made before a powerful leader or a religious shrine. Mandarin is spoken by the largest number of people in China, about 914 million. In speaking of the 'Chinese language', however, we must keep in mind that Mandarin is but one of 14 languages spoken in China today. Although they are often called dialects, they are, in fact, distinct languages. They include Mandarin, Min Dong, Jinyu, Pu Xian, Huizhou, Min Zhong, Dungan, Gan, Hakka, Xiang, Min Bei, Min Nan, Wu, and Yue. (Today we must bow in respect to Mike Ferguson for suggesting today's very Good Word.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
Posts: 4041
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA


Postby Palewriter » Fri Jul 28, 2006 11:55 pm

An excellent word, to be sure. I probably use it weekly (not weakly) in the following context:

"Why are we once again kowtowing to the base instincts of our clients/masters/shareholders?"

The answer always seems to be the same, though expressed in different ways. "Paycheck" sums the spirit up quite nicely.

Gosh. If I could only play golf. No, strike that.

-- PW
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!!! What a ride!"
Posts: 291
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2005 11:59 pm

Postby Stargzer » Sat Jul 29, 2006 1:20 pm

Somehow, after reading Dr. Goodword's words about "cow towers" in this GWOTD, I know that no matter how much Chaos there is here, there well always be Pun Times at the Agora. The Alpha Agora is Beta than all the others. 8)

As the Good Doctor said, they are rare in North America, but a Cow Tower was seen in Chicago in 1999. There also exists a picture of a Squishy Cow Tower, and a Cow Tower (or Kuhturm) in Günzburg, Germany, and a "cow or liberty tower" ("Give me Udderty or give me Death? ") in Burg (Burg bei Magdeburg), Germany.

I think I've done enough damage for now . . .

In deference to his maternal ancesters from Baden-Baden, Stargzer whistles Deutschland, Deutschland Udder Alles . . .

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee
User avatar
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 2567
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 3:56 pm
Location: Crownsville, MD

Postby gailr » Sat Jul 29, 2006 10:16 pm

Nicely-researched post, Stargzer.
User avatar
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 1945
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2005 11:40 am

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Jul 29, 2006 11:54 pm


Udderly fascinating.
• The Good Dr. Goodword
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
Posts: 4041
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA

Postby Bailey » Sun Jul 30, 2006 12:01 am

I'd say udderly amazing, but due to your origins, I have to say you are Udder-Mensch.

cowabunga baby!

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, Make the most of it...

Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 2114
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:51 pm

Return to Good Word Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 4 guests