If you've ever watched "The Wizard of Oz," you probably remember the cowardly lion. Displaying false bravado, roaring to cover his fear and shaking and quaking when confronted were all trademarks of his cowardly behavior. While he was a fictional character, his actions were right on the mark when it comes to defining cowardice. Look for similar signs in people you know to identify a coward.
Since a coward has little or no courage of his own, he will often seek the aid of things that make him feel brave. Rather than face situations that make him uneasy, a coward often resorts to the use of drugs and alcohol to give himself false courage. A coward will also obtain courage from being part of a group. He may be perfectly willing to enter into a physical fight when the numbers are in his favor; however, it's likely he'll do anything to avoid fisticuffs when on his own.
A coward frequently shies away from the truth. When put on the spot, he'll likely talk in circles to avoid telling you anything that may be uncomfortable for him to admit. He will often say what he thinks you want to hear, rather than risk your disapproval. It's also hard for him to handle the truth from others. If you call him out on his behavior or demand an explanation for what he's done, he'll make an excuse to justify his actions.
A coward often feels the need to inflate his outward opinion of himself to compensate for feelings of inadequacy. He will often tell tales of his brave behavior in a variety of situations that bears no resemblance to the truth. He will also inflate his skills and abilities to make himself look like an expert in several areas, when he really has only a rudimentary knowledge of the subject.
Since a coward has no idea what to do in a stressful situation, he will often downplay the severity of the occasion by pretending that all is well. That way he avoids confrontation and lives in a fantasy world where everything is fine. On the other hand, he may completely overreact to the minor infraction of another in order to ward off a confrontation as well. He is a firm believer in the idea that a good offense is the best defense.