[kou-tou, -tou, koh-] /ˈkaʊˈtaʊ, -ˌtaʊ, ˈkoʊ-/

verb (used without object)
to act in an obsequious manner; show servile deference.
to touch the forehead to the ground while kneeling, as an act of worship, reverence, apology, etc., especially in former Chinese custom.
the act of kowtowing.
verb (intransitive)
to touch the forehead to the ground as a sign of deference: a former Chinese custom
(often foll by to) to be servile or obsequious (towards)
the act of kowtowing

also kow-tow, 1804, from Chinese k’o-t’ou custom of touching the ground with the forehead to show respect or submission, literally “knock the head,” from k’o “knock, bump” + t’ou “head.” The verb in the figurative sense of “act in an obsequious manner” is from 1826. Related: Kowtowed; kowtowing.


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