groveled or grovelled; groveling or grovelling

intransitive verb

: to creep with the face to the ground : crawl
: to lie or creep with the body prostrate in token of subservience or abasement
groveled at the feet of the king
: to abase oneself
would not grovel for political advantage
: to give oneself over to what is base or unworthy : wallow
groveling in self-pity
groveler noun
grovelingly adverb

Examples of grovel in a Sentence

The peasants groveled before the king. He had to grovel to get her to accept his apology. He made a groveling apology to his girlfriend.
Recent Examples on the Web Olga Rei and Valentine Uhovski Several weeks later Socialite Rank published a letter purporting to be from Palermo, groveling for the acceptance of New York's socialites. Jessica Pressler, Town & Country, 17 May 2023 Right-wing politicians like Ted Cruz groveled before him, seeking his blessing so that the base didn’t turn on them. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 25 Apr. 2023 Empathy begins with sincerity, not groveling. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, 19 Mar. 2023 But while a decade ago, there were still plenty of supplicants willing to grovel before a panel of senior citizens, these days even apartments in the best buildings languish, including gems like Wrightsman’s own 7,000-square-foot floor-through with 100 feet of park frontage. Curbed, 8 Nov. 2022 You were not required to grovel. Washington Post, 29 Mar. 2022 And the United States is going cap-in-hand to Saudi Arabia to grovel for more oil production. Bjorn Lomborg, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2022 On that day, Biden touched down in Jeddah not just to grovel in front of Saudi Arabia’s corrupt head of state, but to whitewash his decrepit actions. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 12 Oct. 2022 Thank goodness we were spared a runoff pitting two Trump grovelers trying to out-grovel each other. Erika D. Smith, Los Angeles Times, 16 June 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'grovel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


back-formation from groveling prone, from groveling, adverb, from Middle English, from gruf, adverb, on the face (from Old Norse ā grūfu) + -ling

First Known Use

1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of grovel was in 1552

Dictionary Entries Near grovel

Cite this Entry

“Grovel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


groveled or grovelled; groveling or grovelling
: to creep or lie face down on the ground (as in fear)
: to degrade oneself by behaving like a fearful slave : cringe
groveler noun
or groveller

More from Merriam-Webster on grovel

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