What Does A Bully Is Always a Coward Mean?

A Bully is a Coward Meaning

Definition: A person who tries to hurt or scare those who are weaker than him is not brave.

This proverb argues that if a person is a bully, he is also, by definition, a coward. This is because bullies prey on the weak. If you prey on the weak, you must be too scared to prey on someone stronger.

Origin of A Bully is Always a Coward

This proverb comes from a collection called Essays of Elia, written by Charles Lamb in the 1820s.

Examples of A Bully is Always a Coward

meaning of a bully is a cowardIn the first example, two friends are discussing another person they both know. This person is always belittling them.

Marcus: I really can’t stand Tim.

Patsy: I know! He’s always insulting us.

Marcus: He’s such a bully.

Patsy: I’d like to stand up to him and tell him what a horrible human being he is. But I’m too scared he’ll yell at me.

Marcus: You should do it. A bully is always a coward. He’ll probably start to cry.

bullies are cowardsIn the second example, a sister is talking to her brother. She explains that her son is being bullied at school.

Angela: I’d like to ask your advice about something. My son keeps getting bullied at school. It’s just getting worse and worse.

Samson: Just tell him that a bully is always a coward. Maybe he’ll have the courage to defend himself if he realizes that the bully is just as scared as he is.

Angela: He has tried to defend himself. But he’s a lot smaller than the bully, and the bully has a lot more friends.

Samson: Hm. That’s a tough situation.

More Examples

Unfortunately, this proverb does not appear in any news publications available online. However, it does appear in some other texts.

This excerpt from a book argues that this proverb is not true.

  • But we learned nothing about them that we did not know before, except that they were capable of heroism to which they had no moral right, and that there is nothing in the legend that a bully is always a coward. –A Train of Powder

This excerpt also argues that the proverb is a lie.

  • Let us be quite clear that the ideal is a paradox. Most of us, having grown up among the ruins of the chivalrous tradition, were taught in our youth that a bully is always a coward.  –Present Concerns


The phrase a bully is always a coward is a proverb that seeks to take away the power of bullies. It does this by saying that they are not brave. Therefore, bullies are weak themselves.