Noun, adjective & verb. Middle English.
[Old French cuard (later couard) from Proto-Romance variant of Latin cauda tail.]
A noun. A person who shows unworthy fear in the face of danger, pain, or difficulty;
a person with little or no courage. ME
B1 attributive or as adj. Cowardly. ME
B2 attributive or as adj. HERALDRY. Of a lion or other animal: having the tail drawn in between the hind legs. E16
C1 verb trans. Weaken the courage of, make afraid. ME-L17
C2 verb trans. Call, or show to be, a coward. M-L17
Interestingly, similarly cowardy words don't share the same root: to cow, as in 'to browbeat and intimidate into submission', is from Old Norse kúga, meaning 'to oppress'. To cower is from Middle Low German kuren meaning 'to lie in wait', and the noun cow-heart, meaning 'a coward', simply means having the heart of a cow.
To illustrate coward, the internet is awash with instances of poetic justice: thieves getting smacked down by grannies, happy slappers slapping the wrong person, etc, and consequently demonstrating their craven cow-hearts in the process. I've chosen, however, a video in which a man doesn't quite cover himself in glory, and may well be described as a coward with his tail between his legs. The video also contains a literal tail. But, on watching it, would I have been scared in his situation? Definitely. Would I have run away screaming like a little girl? Probably. So you can judge for yourself ...
Do please leave your most lion-hearted comments in the box below.