A former Chinese custom of touching the ground with the forehead as a sign of respect or submission.
Bend the knees and bow in a servile manner.
Roget 725: succumb, submit, yeild, bend, resign, defer to. lay down one's arms, deliver up one's arms; lower colors, haul down colors, strike one's flag, strike colors. surrender, surrender at discretion; ... show more
Dutch: buigen, zich, knielen, een voetval maken, kruipen voor
Try to gain favor by cringing or flattering:
— He is always kowtowing to his boss.
Moby thesaurus: apple-polish, bend, bend the knee, bend the neck, bend to, bending the knee, bob, bob a curtsy, bob down, bootlick, bow, bow and scrape, bow down, bow the head, bow to, bowing and scraping, brown-nose, butter up, cower, crawl ... show more.
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