gen·​u·​flect | \ ˈjen-yə-ˌflekt How to pronounce genuflect (audio) \
genuflected; genuflecting; genuflects

Definition of genuflect

intransitive verb

1a : to bend the knee
b : to touch the knee to the floor or ground especially in worship genuflected before the altar
2 : to be humbly obedient or respectful bureaucrats who genuflect before the governor

Other Words from genuflect

genuflection \ ˌjen-​yə-​ˈflek-​shən How to pronounce genuflect (audio) \ noun

Did you know?

Genuflect is derived from the Late Latin genuflectere, formed from the noun genu ("knee") and the verb flectere ("to bend"). Flectere appears in a number of our more common verbs, such as reflect ("to bend or throw back," as light) and deflect ("to turn aside"). By comparison genu sees little use in English, but it did give us geniculate, a word often used in scientific contexts to mean "bent abruptly at an angle like a bent knee." Despite the resemblance, words such as genius and genuine are not related to genuflect; instead, they are of a family that includes the Latin verb gignere, meaning "to beget."

Examples of genuflect in a Sentence

They genuflected before the altar in the church.
Recent Examples on the Web Texas is changing, in ways that Cornyn is wise to genuflect toward, and this election has the look of a blue wave. Benjamin Wallace-wells, The New Yorker, 21 Oct. 2020 They're used to everybody genuflecting in their presence. Patrick Bedard, Car and Driver, 29 May 2020 Patrick Curran hopes customers genuflect over the food, too. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 21 Feb. 2020 This wasn't a mere victory lap — although John relished the opportunity to stand up from his piano and genuflect gleefully after practically every song. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 20 Oct. 2019 With the largest population of Ethiopian immigrants to the United States living in Washington, D.C., strangers on the street there sometimes look at him, recognize the late emperor, and reflexively genuflect in some way. Michael Joseph Gross, Vanities, 27 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'genuflect.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of genuflect

1630, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for genuflect

Late Latin genuflectere, from Latin genu knee + flectere to bend — more at knee entry 1

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The first known use of genuflect was in 1630

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Cite this Entry

“Genuflect.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for genuflect


gen·​u·​flect | \ ˈjen-yə-ˌflekt How to pronounce genuflect (audio) \
genuflected; genuflecting

Kids Definition of genuflect

: to kneel on one knee and rise again as an act of deep respect (as in a church)

More from Merriam-Webster on genuflect

Nglish: Translation of genuflect for Spanish Speakers


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