adjective sub·ser·vi·ent \səb-ˈsər-vē-ənt\

: very willing or too willing to obey someone else

: less important than something or someone else

Full Definition of SUBSERVIENT

:  useful in an inferior capacity :  subordinate
:  serving to promote some end
:  obsequiously submissive :  truckling
sub·ser·vi·ent·ly adverb


  1. She refused to take a subservient role in their marriage.
  2. Henson and Stowe did become close friends, and Stowe herself drew direct parallels between Uncle Tom and Josiah Henson. Sadder still, the term Uncle Tom has since taken on negative, minstrel-show connotations of subservient blacks kowtowing to whites, which is unfortunate, because it undermines the triumph that was Josiah Henson's life. He was no caricature, and his achievements were real. —Will Ferguson, Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw, 2004


Latin subservient-, subserviens, present participle of subservire (see subserve)
First Known Use: circa 1626

Synonym Discussion of SUBSERVIENT

subservient, servile, slavish, obsequious mean showing or characterized by extreme compliance or abject obedience. subservient implies the cringing manner of one very conscious of a subordinate position <domestic help was expected to be properly subservient>. servile suggests the mean or fawning behavior of a slave <a political boss and his entourage of servile hangers-on>. slavish suggests abject or debased servility <the slavish status of migrant farm workers>. obsequious implies fawning or sycophantic compliance and exaggerated deference of manner <waiters who are obsequious in the presence of celebrities>.
SUBSERVIENT Defined for Kids


adjective sub·ser·vi·ent \səb-ˈsər-vē-ənt\

Definition of SUBSERVIENT for Kids

:  submissive <If Martha had been a well-trained fine young lady's maid she would have been more subservient … — Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden>


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