v. cov·ered, cov·er·ing, cov·ers
a. To place something upon or over, so as to protect or conceal: covered the boat with a tarp; covered the photo with his hand.
b. To overlay or spread with something: cover the potatoes with gravy.
c. To put a cover or covering on: covered jar with a lid.
a. To hide or screen from view or knowledge; conceal. Often used with up: He tried to cover up his mistakes.
b. To do something that gains for (oneself) a quality or association: The mountain climbers covered themselves in glory.
a. To be spread over the surface of: Dust covered the table. Your boots are covered with mud.
b. To lie over or adhere to so as to protect or conceal: The rug covers the gouges in the floor. Paint covers the stains on the ceiling.
c. To extend over: a farm covering more than 100 acres.
a. To travel or pass over: They covered 60 miles in two days.
b. To have as one's territory or sphere of work: a sales rep who covers the Southwest.
a. To protect from loss. Used of insurance: a new policy that will cover all our camera equipment.
b. To take measures to prevent (oneself) from being held responsible for something: With the memo he is covering himself in case something goes wrong.
c. To be enough to pay for or make up for: Will $100 cover the bill?
a. To have as a subject; deal with: The book covers the feminist movement.
b. To be responsible for reporting the details of (an event or situation): Two reporters covered the scandal.
c. To apply to or take into account: The law does not cover all crimes.
a. To protect by having within range or by firing a weapon: The fort's guns cover the entire harbor.
b. To aim a firearm at: Keep these dangerous suspects covered.
a. To guard (an opponent playing offense).
b. To defend (a position or area): cover third base; cover the backcourt.
9. To match (an opponent's stake) in a wager.
10. To purchase (stock that one has shorted).
11. Games To play a higher-ranking card than (the one previously played).
a. To perform or record (music previously recorded or popularized by another): covered a classic rock ballad from the 1970s.
b. To perform or record music first recorded or popularized by (another): a band that specializes in covering the Beatles.
13. To copulate with (a female). Used especially of horses.
1. To spread over a surface to protect or conceal something: a paint that covers well.
2. To act as a substitute or replacement during someone's absence: Her assistant covered for her.
3. To hide something in order to save someone from censure or punishment: cover up for a colleague.
4. Games To play a higher card than the one previously played.
1. Something that covers or is laid, placed, or spread over or upon something else, as:
a. A lid or top.
b. A binding or outer part for a book or magazine.
c. A bedcover.
d. A protective overlay, as for a mattress or furniture.
a. Shelter or protection: The sheep seek cover in the cave when it snows.
b. Strategic protection given by armed units during hostile action: The battleship approached the combat zone under a cover of fighter planes.
a. Something, such as vegetation, covering the surface of the ground.
b. Vegetation, such as underbrush, serving as protective concealment for wild animals.
a. Something, such as darkness, that screens, conceals, or disguises. See Synonyms at shelter.
b. A false identity, especially for a spy.
c. An activity or organization that is used to conceal an illegal or secret activity: a man who sold paintings as a cover for spying.
5. A layer of clouds obscuring the sky or ground.
6. A table setting for one person: Covers were laid for ten.
7. A cover charge.
8. An envelope or wrapper for mail.
9. Funds sufficient to meet an obligation or secure against loss.
10. One who substitutes for another: Who is your cover for tonight's shift?
11. Music A recording or performance of a song that was previously recorded or popularized by another.
1. To put on or wear clothing: It's very cold outside, so cover up before you go out.
2. In boxing, to protect oneself from blows by holding the gloves over one's face with the forearms straight down over the chest.
cover (one's) ass
Vulgar Slang To take measures to avoid being held responsible if something goes wrong.
cover (one's) tracks
To conceal traces so as to elude pursuers.
cover (the) ground
1. To traverse a given distance with satisfying speed.
2. To deal with or accomplish something in a certain manner: The history course covered a lot of ground in six weeks.
cover the waterfront
To treat, examine, or include a full range of things: a book that covers the waterfront on starting your own business.
To seek concealment or protection, as from enemy fire.
1. In an enclosure for mailing.
2. Being hidden or protected, as by darkness.
[Middle English coveren, from Old French covrir, from Latin cooperīre, to cover completely : co-, intensive pref.; see CO- + operīre, to cover; see wer-4 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.