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kowtow to (someone or something)

To seek esteem through deference to someone. Don't just kowtow to the boss—tell him what you really think! He'll respect you more for it. Legislators have been accused of kowtowing to corporate lobbyists following the repeal of the regulations.
See also: kowtow, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

kowtow to someone or something

to grovel to someone or something. I won't kowtow to anyone! You don't expect me to go in there and kowtow to that committee, do you?
See also: kowtow, to
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

kowtow to

To show someone or something excessive respect and obedience in order to gain or maintain favor: The peasants had to kowtow to the dictator. The staff kowtowed to every plan their boss proposed.
See also: kowtow, to
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
At weddings, couples may sometimes kowtow to their respective parents, although the standing bow is currently a lot more common.
Frankly, performing the grand kowtow in a kimono would have given our Prime Minister a little dignity last week.
In 662 AD, says Reinders, a debate began in China between Confucian ritual, in which everyone is supposed to bow, or kowtow, to the Chinese emperor, and Buddhists, who claim exemption from bowing to any lay person, even their own parents or the emperor.
They survive thanks to politicians and media that kowtow to the gun industry, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and others who work feverishly to obscure the truth about wildlife "management."
Cleverly costumed with backs, shoulders, rumps, or chests distorted by huge bumps--visual reminders of their toxicity the high fliers invited to the ball kowtow to their Prince, who must renounce artifice to win the pure Cinderella.
It's not true, as some governance critics would have you believe, that compensation committees at major companies are stuffed with CEO cronies all too willing to kowtow to the chief when it comes to keeping his or her pay ahead of competitors'.
Why, then, does America kowtow to culture in its foreign policy?
Will New Yorkers kowtow to the Pepsi challenge by letting its bottler leave "PepsiCola" in lights along the East River forever?
If you kowtow to the bully, the bully will run your life forever.
To kowtow to someone is to show subservience, to be obsequious, to behave in a servile manner.
For Clem demanded a kind of aesthetic kowtow from those upon whom he would confer positive judgments - which meant those whose work conformed to his theory of Modernism.
He learnt his Chinese from the two priests during the ten-month voyage and was later to prove useful in translating some of the key documents Macartney sent to the emperor, including his views on the kowtow.
For Manila to kowtow to the Japanese for their aid is downright disgusting.
And we don't have to kowtow to the Germans and French, who seem to have short memories.
The Tories are failing economically, badly split on Europe and immoral when they kowtow to Saudi Arabia's brutal regime.