While I was reading one-word substitutions in R.S. Agarwal's General English book, I came across the following question:

One who always runs away from danger

a) escapist
b) timid
c) coward
d) shirker

They have given b as the correct answer. I reckoned that timid and coward both are the same. Can you please tell me the difference between timid and coward?

  • 5
    Timid is not as strong as coward, plus it's not even usually a noun, so I'm surprised it's listed as the correct answer. Mar 6, 2014 at 6:22
  • I always felt that coward was a little more degrading. I think coward can be an insult whereas timid can't.
    – krikara
    Mar 6, 2014 at 14:21

3 Answers 3


Actually the thing is, timid means lack of courage and frightening easily. Not specifically like avoiding danger. While a coward is someone who always runs away from danger, and is excessively afraid of danger.

The common thing is lack of courage and the difference is like not having a backbone or having a weak backbone.

You could say the degree of afraidness is more in a coward. And since the question contains the word "always", we can go for 'coward' as the answer.

I think your book is showing the wrong answer.

  • The distinction is so subtle, but I agree with you. Timid is an adjective, coward is a noun. A noun it is a better fit to a question that asks for one who.
    – David M
    Mar 6, 2014 at 14:27

The reason is given by David M in a comment.

You are asked for

One who always runs away from danger

a) escapist b) timid c) coward d) shirker

The clue is 'one'—in other words a person. Therefore you are being asked for a noun.

'timid' is an adjective and so does not fulfill the requirements

'coward' is a noun and therefore a suitable candidate.

Unless you have failed to give us some of the context then, as someone else mentioned, your book is wrong.


I believe a coward has a higher fear level than a timid. A coward does not try to get out of the fear even with support. Cowards would come up with ways to keep them hidden in their bubbles and would deny and reject mutual or dual support. Timids on the other hand have the potential to not be afraid yet they need some kind of support to get out of their bubble or fear..

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