A recreant is a heavy-duty coward. If your friend shoves you in front of him when a growling dog approaches, you'd quickly recognize him for the recreant that he is. And in the future you’d choose your friends more carefully.

An extreme recreant would be the soldier who goes over to the enemy if it looks like they might win. Definitely not the kind of person you'd want in your platoon. Recreant (RE-cree-unt) comes from the Latin re-, meaning to "reverse" something, and credere, "entrust." The word miscreant is nearly synonymous, although a miscreant is not so much a coward, but just an all-around bad sort.

Definitions of recreant
  1. adjective
    having deserted a cause or principle
    “some provinces had proved recreant
    synonyms: renegade
    deserting your allegiance or duty to leader or cause or principle
  2. adjective
    lacking even the rudiments of courage; abjectly fearful
    “"this recreant knight"- Spenser”
    synonyms: craven
    cowardly, fearful
    lacking courage; ignobly timid and faint-hearted
  3. noun
    a disloyal person who betrays or deserts his cause or religion or political party or friend etc.
    synonyms: apostate, deserter, ratter, renegade, turncoat
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    type of:
    a person who gives up too easily
  4. noun
    an abject coward
    synonyms: craven, poltroon
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    type of:
    a person who shows fear or timidity
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