From Middle English vowe, voue, that from Old French vut, in turn from Latin vōtum (a promise, dedication, vow), from vovēre (to promise, vow). Doublet of vote.


  • IPA(key): /vaʊ/
  • Rhymes: -aʊ
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vow (plural vows)

  1. A solemn promise to perform some act, or behave in a specified manner, especially a promise to live and act in accordance with the rules of a religious order.
    The old hermit, up in the mountains, took a vow of silence.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, Numbers 30:1–2:
      And Moses spake vnto the heads of the tribes, concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded.
      If a man vowe a vow vnto the Lord, or sweare an othe to bind his soule with a bond: he shall not breake his word, hee shall doe according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.
  2. A declaration or assertion.
    • 2013 June 14, Sam Leith, “Where the profound meets the profane”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 1, page 37:
      Swearing doesn't just mean what we now understand by "dirty words". It is entwined, in social and linguistic history, with the other sort of swearing: vows and oaths. Consider for a moment the origins of almost any word we have for bad language – "profanity", "curses", "oaths" and "swearing" itself.
  3. (obsolete) A votive offering.
    • 1786, Richard Payne Knight, The Worship of Priapus:
      There are also waxen vows, that represent other parts of the body mixed with them; but of these there are few in comparison of the number of the Priapi.

Usage notesEdit

  • One normally makes or takes a vow, or simply vows (see below).
  • Commonly mentioned vows include those of silence, obedience, poverty, chastity, and celibacy.
  • 'to keep/pay/fulfill a vow' = to honor a vow
  • 'to break a vow' = to dishonor a vow


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


vow (third-person singular simple present vows, present participle vowing, simple past and past participle vowed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To make a vow; to promise.
  2. (transitive) To make a vow regarding (something).
    The wronged woman vowed revenge.
  3. To declare publicly that one has made a vow, usually to show one's determination or to announce an act of retaliation.
    The rebels vowed to continue their fight.


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