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 Ask, grovel, inquire, whatever. Do it now before those credits start to expire. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax: A grad school dropout wants to make a course correction," 30 Mar. 2020 Christie Gunter, owner of China Baroque jewelry and accessories, has never groveled for business. Joy Sewing, Houston Chronicle, "Rodeo vendors urge shoppers to buy online," 13 Mar. 2020 Jim Jordan called me crying, groveling, begging me to go against my brother, begging me, crying for a half-hour. Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY, "Ex-OSU wrestler: Rep. Jordan called ‘crying, groveling, begging’ to deny sexual abuse claims," 12 Feb. 2020 Add it all up and Iowa's days as a trendsetting state where dozens of would-be presidents must grovel before the gods of ethanol and direct democracy are probably over. David Faris, TheWeek, "2 winners and 3 losers from Iowa," 7 Feb. 2020 Actress Fan Bingbing only re-emerged from months of house arrest after making a groveling public apology. Yaqiu Wang, Twin Cities, "Yaqiu Wang: China’s Communist Party is as shadowy and repressive as when it took power 70 years ago," 3 Oct. 2019 So, Jenny and Ken are boneheads and still think Fox is Jamie Foxx, because clearly in their world an Oscar-winning zillionaire needs to grovel for minor coins on this trash. Robbie Daw, Billboard, "'The Masked Singer' Finale Recap: Who's Winning This Thing Anyway?," 19 Dec. 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for grovel

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The first known use of grovel was in 1552

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Statistics for grovel

Last Updated

7 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Grovel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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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

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