Definition of genuflect
1a : to bend the kneeb : 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
genuflectionplay \ˌjen-yə-ˈflek-shən\ noun
genuflect was our Word of the Day on 02/28/2017. Hear the podcast!
Examples of genuflect in a sentence
They genuflected before the altar in the church.
Did You Know?
Genuflect is derived from Late Latin genuflectere, formed from the noun "genu" ("knee") and the verb "flectere" ("to bend"). "Flectere" is an ancestor of a number of common verbs in English, such as "reflect" ("to throw back light or sound") 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."
Origin and Etymology of genuflect
Late Latin genuflectere, from Latin genu knee + flectere to bend — more at knee
First Known Use: 1630
GENUFLECT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of genuflect for English Language Learners
: to kneel on one knee and then rise again as an act of respect
: to obey someone with power in a way that is seen as weak
GENUFLECT Defined for Kids
Definition of genuflect for Students
: to kneel on one knee and rise again as an act of deep respect (as in a church)
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up genuflect? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).