Learn English – When you say a man is a coward, does it imply femininity by default? Is ”girlish coward” a common expression


I was wondering about this and would appreciate your take on the question.

Best Answer

No, I don't think it does. There are other epithets that describe cowardice that do imply lack of masculinity or presence of femininity.

According to etymonline cowardice describes originally the idea of running of with the tail between the legs, but it does not question one's masculinity.

On the other hand, expressions like grow a pair do suggest that the addressee does not have testicles - thus certainly claiming that he lacks masculinity.

If you call someone a sissy, you allude to his overly present feminine side.

As for your combination of "girlish coward", I would say it is not common, but it will be readily understood. However, it sounds a bit weird to me because I feel coward is a much stronger term than "girlish". So if you call someone a coward, calling him girlish as well is just icing on the cake.