Etymology: Middle English, from Old English būgan; akin to Old High German biogan to bend, Sanskrit bhujati he bends
Date: before 12th century
1. to cease from competition or resistance ; submit, yield <refusing to bow to the inevitable — John O'Hara>; also to suffer defeat <bowed to the champion> 2. to bend the head, body, or knee in reverence, submission, or shame 3. to incline the head or body in salutation or assent or to acknowledge applause 4. debut <the play will bow next month> transitive verb 1. to cause to incline 2. to incline (as the head) especially in respect or submission 3. to crush with a heavy burden 4. a. to express by bowing b. to usher in or out with a bow II. noun Date: circa 1656 a bending of the head or body in respect, submission, assent, or salutation; also a show of respect or submission III. noun Etymology: Middle English bowe, from Old English boga; akin to Old English būgan Date: before 12th century 1. a. something bent into a simple curve b. rainbow 2. a weapon that is made of a strip of flexible material (as wood) with a cord connecting the two ends and holding the strip bent and that is used to propel an arrow 3. archer 4. a. a metal ring or loop forming a handle (as of a key) b. a knot formed by doubling a ribbon or string into two or more loops c. bow tie 1 d. a frame for the lenses of eyeglasses; also the sidepiece of the frame passing over the ear 5. a. a wooden rod with horsehairs stretched from end to end used in playing an instrument of the viol or violin family b. a stroke of such a bow IV. verb Date: before 12th century intransitive verb 1. to bend into a curve 2. to play a stringed musical instrument with a bow transitive verb 1. to cause to bend into a curve 2. to play (a stringed instrument) with a bow V. noun Etymology: Middle English bowe, bowgh, probably from Middle Dutch boech bow, shoulder; akin to Old English bōg bough Date: 15th century 1. the forward part of a ship — often used in plural <crossing the bows> 2. bowman II
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.