"want of courage to face danger, dread of harm or pain," c. 1300, from Old French coardise (13c.), from coard, coart "coward" (see coward) + noun suffix -ise.
Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination. [Ernest Hemingway, "Men at War," 1942]
updated on April 27, 2018