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


cower, cringe, quail

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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

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 And after all of this, Emily Gilmore is still groveling for time with her. Diana Bruk, Country Living, "Lorelai Gilmore Is Seriously The Worst," 5 Dec. 2016 Hardly a surprise we are treated like Panama or El Salvador when government grovels for favours. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Admitting He Feels ‘Unwelcome,’ Trump Finds New Ways to Offend the British," 13 July 2018 The site was unblocked only after the company’s chief executive issued a grovelling public apology. The Economist, "A deadline looms in China’s battle with foreign firms over Taiwan," 5 July 2018 Trump’s behavior in office has borne out all these assessments, yet their authors now grovel before him. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "The GOP Is Trump’s Personality Cult. Could Democrats Do the Same?," 27 June 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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Dictionary Entries near grovel



Grove City




groves of academe

Statistics for grovel

Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for grovel

The first known use of grovel was in 1552

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More Definitions for grovel



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with grovel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for grovel

Spanish Central: Translation of grovel

Nglish: Translation of grovel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of grovel for Arabic Speakers

Comments on grovel

What made you want to look up grovel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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