First Name
in the U.S.
since 1880
Last Name
in the U.S.
in 2010
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Meaning and Origin

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Origin and Meaning of Bow

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Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
verb Bow
  1. To cause to deviate from straightness; to bend; to inflect; to make crooked or curved."We bow things the contrary way, to make them come to their natural straightness." [Milton.]"The whole nation bowed their necks to the worst kind of tyranny." [Prescott.]
  2. To exercise powerful or controlling influence over; to bend, figuratively; to turn; to incline."Adversities do more bow men's minds to religion." [Bacon.]"Not to bow and bias their opinions." [Fuller.]
  3. To bend or incline, as the head or body, in token of respect, gratitude, assent, homage, or condescension."They came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him." [2 Kings ii. 15.]
  4. To cause to bend down; to prostrate; to depress,;� to crush; to subdue."Whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave." [Shak.]
  5. To express by bowing; as, to bow one's thanks.

Etymology: OE. bowen bogen bugen, AS. būgangenerally v. i.); akin to D. buigen, OHG. biogan, G. biegen beugen, Icel. boginn bent, beygja to bend, Sw. böja, Dan. böie bugne, Coth. biugan; also to L. fugere to flee, Gr. �, and Skr. bhuj to bend. √88. Cf. Fugitive

verb Bow
  1. To bend; to curve.(Obs)
  2. To stop.(Archaic)"They stoop, they bow down together." [Is. xlvi. 2�]
  3. To bend the head, knee, or body, in token of reverence or submission; -- often with down."O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker." [Ps. xcv. 6.]
  4. To incline the head in token of salutation, civility, or assent; to make bow."Admired, adored by all circling crowd, For wheresoe'er she turned her face, they bowed." [Dryden.]
noun Bow
An inclination of the head, or a bending of the body, in token of reverence, respect, civility, or submission; an obeisance; as, a bow of deep humility.
noun Bow
  1. Anything bent, or in the form of a curve, as the rainbow."I do set my bow in the cloud." [Gen. ix. 13.]
  2. A weapon made of a strip of wood, or other elastic material, with a cord connecting the two ends, by means of which an arrow is propelled.
  3. An ornamental knot, with projecting loops, formed by doubling a ribbon or string.
  4. The U-shaped piece which embraces the neck of an ox and fastens it to the yoke.
  5. [Mus] An appliance consisting of an elastic rod, with a number of horse hairs stretched from end to end of it, used in playing on a stringed instrument.
  6. An arcograph.
  7. [Mech. & Manuf] Any instrument consisting of an elastic rod, with ends connected by a string, employed for giving reciprocating motion to a drill, or for preparing and arranging the hair, fur, etc., used by hatters.
  8. [Naut] A rude sort of quadrant formerly used for taking the sun's altitude at sea.
  9. [Saddlery] (sing. or pl.)Two pieces of wood which form the arched forward part of a saddletree.

Etymology: OE. bowe boge, AS. boga, fr. AS. būgan to bend; akin to D. boog, G. bogen, Icel. bogi. See Bow (v. t.)

verb Bow
To play (music) with a bow.
noun Bow
  1. [Naut] The bending or rounded part of a ship forward; the stream or prow.
  2. [Naut] One who rows in the forward part of a boat; the bow oar.

Etymology: Icel. bōgr shoulder, bow of a ship. See Bough

Other Dictionary Sources
  1. A stroke with a curved piece of wood with taut horsehair strands that is used in playing stringed instruments
  2. A slightly curved piece of resilient wood with taut horsehair strands; used in playing certain stringed instruments
  3. A weapon for shooting arrows, composed of a curved piece of resilient wood with a taut cord to propel the arrow
  4. Front part of a vessel or aircraft ("he pointed the bow of the boat toward the finish line")
  5. A knot with two loops and loose ends; used to tie shoelaces
  6. A decorative interlacing of ribbons
  7. An appearance by actors or performers at the end of the concert or play in order to acknowledge the applause of the audience
  8. Bending the head or body or knee as a sign of reverence or submission or shame or greeting
  9. Something curved in shape
  10. Yield to another's wish or opinion ("The government bowed to the military pressure")
  11. Bend one's knee or body, or lower one's head ("He bowed before the King" and "She bowed her head in shame")
  12. Play on a stringed instrument with a bow
  13. Bend the head or the upper part of the body in a gesture of respect or greeting ("He bowed before the King")
  14. Bend one's back forward from the waist on down ("She bowed before the Queen")

From Middle English bowe, boȝe, from Old English boga, from Proto-Germanic *bugô. Cognate with West Frisian boge, Dutch boog, German Bogen, Danish bue, Norwegian boge, bue, Swedish båge.

  1. A weapon made of a curved piece of wood or other flexible material whose ends are connected by a string, used for shooting arrows.
  2. A curved bend in a rod or planar surface, or in a linear formation such as a river (see oxbow).
  3. A rod with horsehair (or an artificial substitute) stretched between the ends, used for playing various stringed musical instruments.
  4. A stringed instrument (chordophone), consisting of a stick with a single taut cord stretched between the ends, most often played by plucking.
  5. A type of knot with two loops, used to tie together two cords such as shoelaces or apron strings, and frequently used as decoration, such as in gift-wrapping.
  6. Anything bent or curved, such as a rainbow.
  7. The U-shaped piece which goes around the neck of an ox and fastens it to the yoke.
  8. Any instrument consisting of an elastic rod, with ends connected by a string, employed for giving reciprocating motion to a drill, or for preparing and arranging hair, fur, etc., used by hatters.
  9. (nautical) A crude sort of quadrant formerly used for taking the sun's altitude at sea.
  10. (saddlery) Two pieces of wood which form the arched forward part of a saddletree.

From Middle English buwen, buȝen, from Old English būgan, from Proto-Germanic *beuganą, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰūgʰ- (“to bend”). Cognate with Dutch buigen, German biegen, Danish bue.

  1. A gesture, usually showing respect, made by inclining the head or bending forward at the waist; a reverence
    He made a polite as he entered the room.

From Middle Dutch boech or Old Norse bógr.

  1. (nautical) The front of a boat or ship.

    bow was also found in the following language(s): Vilamovian

    Notable Persons Named Bow

    Bow is also known as Kyle Reccula.


    Bow Kum was a slave girl. Bow was born in 1888 in Guangzhou. Bow is also known as Sweet Flower. She died on August 15th, 1909.


    Notable Persons With the Last Name Bow

    Clara Bow was an actress and actor. She holds the title True To The Navy. Her most notable accomplishments were from 1921 to 1933. Clara was given the name Clara Gordon Bow on July 29th, 1905 in Brooklyn, New York, U.S. She breathed her last breath on September 27th, 1965.


    The Baroness King of Bow is a for Bethnal Green, Bow, Member of Parliament, and forBethnal Green. The was born on October 22nd, 1967 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, UK.


    Bow is also known as Kyle Reccula.


    Buddy Red Bow is a musician and actor. Buddy was given the name Warfield Richards on June 26th, 1948 in Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.


    Big was born in 1833.


    Frank Townsend Bow was a congressman. His career lasted from 1951 to 1972. Frank was born on February 20th, 1901 in Canton, Ohio. He breathed his last breath on November 13th, 1972.


    Where is the name Bow popular?

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    Popularity of Bow as a last name

    The map shows the absolute popularity of the name Bow as a last name in each of the states. See other popular names in Michigan, Kentucky, or New York.

    Common last names for Bow

    • Lee
    • Wong
    • Yee
    • Chin
    • Young

    Common first names for Bow

    Ethnicity Distribution

    Ethnicity Bow U.S.
      White 70.07% 64.26%
      African American 9.98% 11.96%
      Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 7.96% 4.85%
      American Indian and Alaska Native 4.75% 0.69%
      Two or More Ethnicities 2.61% 1.76%
      Hispanic or Latino 4.63% 16.26%

    Of Last Name Bow

    People with the last name Bow are most frequently White

    Entire United States

    Fun Facts about the name Bow

    • How Popular is the name Bow? Bow is the 29,526th most popular name of all time. As a last name Bow was the 16,909th most popular name in 2010.
    • How many people with the first name Bow have been born in the United States? From 1880 to 2017, the Social Security Administration has recorded 164 babies born with the first name Bow in the United States. That's more than enough people named Bow to occupy the territory of Pitcairn Islands (United Kingdom) with an estimated population of 66 (as of July 1, 2008).
    • What year were 5 or more babies first named Bow? The name was first given to 5 or more babies in the year 1980 when it was given as a first name to 5 new born babies.
    • When was Bow first recorded in the United States? The oldest recorded birth by the Social Security Administration for the first name Bow is Saturday, March 18th, 1882.
    • What year had the most people named Bow born? The highest recorded use of the first name Bow was in 2014 with a total of 19 babies.
    • Weird things about the name Bow: Your name in reverse order is Wob. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Wob. How do you pronounce that?
    • How many people have the last name Bow? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 1,684 people with the last name Bow.
    • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Bow? Chances are, most people haven't met someone with Bow as their last name since less than 1 person in 175k people have that last name. If you know one, consider yourself lucky!

    What Bows Have Visited This Page?

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    • Sources:
    • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (public domain).
    • U.S. Social Security Administration: Popular Baby Names, Death Master File (public domain).
    • 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via the Collaborative International Dictionary of English (License)
    • Other Dictionary Sources: WordNet 3.1 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University (License).
    • Wiktionary: Titles and License.
    • Notable persons via Wikipedia: Titles and License. Click each image for the attribution information.