Open main menu



Alternative formsEdit


From Middle French poltron, from Italian poltrone.



poltroon (plural poltroons)

  1. An ignoble or total coward; a dastard; a mean-spirited wretch.
    • c. 1590, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, Act I, Scene 1,[1]
      Patience is for poltroons, such as he:
      He durst not sit there, had your father lived.
    • 1727, Daniel Defoe, An Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions, London: J. Roberts, Chapter 8, p. 144,[2]
      For the Devil’s a Coward in Nature,
      A pitiful sorry Poltroon;
      If you take but the Whip, he’ll give you the Slip;
      And before you can lash him, he’ll run.
    • 1778, George Washington, to Charles Lee following an act of insubordination
      You damned poltroon, you never tried them!
    • 1842, Nicholas Michell, The Traduced: An Historical Romance‎, London: T. & W. Boone, Volume I, Chapter 28, pp. 266-267,[3]
      "To gain life by means of a breach of faith and honour, were indeed to render myself the poltroon, and the villain my accusers believe me."
    • 1951, P. G. Wodehouse, 'The Old Reliable', Hutchinson, London: 1981, p 162,
      The sounds outside had ceased...But somebody had been there, and she proposed to look into the matter thoroughly. There was nothing of the poltroon about Adela Shannon Cork.




poltroon (comparative more poltroon, superlative most poltroon)

  1. Cowardly.
    • 1926, T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Chapter 82,[4]
      Accordingly, to excuse our deliberate inactivity in the north, we had to make a show of impotence, which gave them to understand that the Arabs were too poltroon to cut the line near Maan and keep it cut.



Further readingEdit