grov·​el | \ ˈgrä-vᵊl How to pronounce grovel (audio) , ˈgrə- How to pronounce grovel (audio) \
groveled or grovelled; groveling or grovelling

Definition of grovel

intransitive verb

1 : to creep with the face to the ground : crawl
2a : to lie or creep with the body prostrate in token of subservience or abasement groveled at the feet of the king
b : to abase oneself would not grovel for political advantage
3 : to give oneself over to what is base or unworthy : wallow groveling in self-pity

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Other Words from grovel

groveler \ ˈgrä-​vᵊl-​ər How to pronounce groveler (audio) , ˈgrə-​ \ noun
grovelingly \ ˈgrä-​vᵊl-​iŋ-​lē How to pronounce grovelingly (audio) , ˈgrə-​ \ adverb

Synonyms for grovel


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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Ms Cartier Brickell is alert to their diverse connotations, from love letter to grovelling apology to glaring status symbol. The Economist, "The glittering rise of the Cartiers," 14 Nov. 2019 So funny to watch Steve Kerr grovel and pander when asked a simple question about China. Connor Letourneau,, "Steve Kerr shakes off questions about Donald Trump’s latest jab," 12 Oct. 2019 Employees have traditionally been the ones who have to grovel to get—and sometimes, to keep—a job. Justin Brady, Quartz at Work, "Gen Z defines job security completely differently from the rest of us," 24 Sep. 2019 Overseas museum directors, who spend their lives groveling before increasingly populist and philistine governments, envy this setup. Washington Post, "Can artists right the ills of an unjust world by staging museum protests?," 24 July 2019 Then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh was literally prowling the halls—really, every college coach in the country was prepared to grovel for Luck’s services. Conor Orr,, "Everything Andrew Luck Was, Is and Will Be," 3 Sep. 2019 But luxury brands—whose largest single market is often China—offered grovelling apologies. The Economist, "China’s thin-skinned online nationalists want to be both loved and feared by the West," 22 Aug. 2019 The season kicks off with Kendall forced to grovel to his father after his accident and failed coup while sister Shiv positions herself for a promotion. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, "Media, Money and Murdochs: How 'Succession' Became the Perfect Show for the Trump Era," 31 July 2019 Black people are only fit to live underground like groveling goblins. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Twitter apologizes after conservative commentator Candace Owens was briefly locked out of her account," 6 Aug. 2018

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

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First Known Use of grovel

1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for grovel

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

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Statistics for grovel

Last Updated

18 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for grovel

The first known use of grovel was in 1552

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More Definitions for grovel


How to pronounce grovel (audio) How to pronounce grovel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of grovel

: to kneel, lie, or crawl on the ground
: to treat someone with too much respect or fear in a way that shows weakness in order to be forgiven or to gain approval or favor


grov·​el | \ ˈgrä-vᵊl How to pronounce grovel (audio) , ˈgrə-\
groveled or grovelled; groveling or grovelling

Kids Definition of grovel

1 : to kneel, lie, or crawl on the ground (as in fear)
2 : to act toward someone in a weak or humble way He groveled before the king.

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More from Merriam-Webster on grovel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for grovel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with grovel

Spanish Central: Translation of grovel

Nglish: Translation of grovel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of grovel for Arabic Speakers

Comments on grovel

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to speed up the process or progress of

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