me·​nial | \ ˈmē-nē-əl , -nyəl\

Definition of menial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person doing menial work specifically : a domestic (see domestic entry 1 sense 4) servant or retainer (see retainer entry 1 sense 1a)



Definition of menial (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of or relating to servants : lowly a menial worker
2a : appropriate to a servant : humble, servile answered in menial tones menial household chores
b : lacking interest or dignity a menial task

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Other Words from menial


menially adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for menial

Synonyms: Noun

daily [British], domestic, flunky (also flunkey), lackey, retainer, servant, slavey, steward

Synonyms: Adjective

abject, base, humble, servile, slavish

Antonyms: Noun

master, mistress

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Examples of menial in a Sentence


immigrants to that country faced fierce prejudice and could expect to find work only as menials


every command was obeyed in the menial manner of someone who seemed grateful just to be in the presence of a celebrity

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Disappointed, Li Po returned home and accepted a menial job as a clerk for the county magistrate. Yunte Huang, WSJ, "‘The Banished Immortal’ Review: ‘Heaven Begot a Talent Like Me’," 11 Jan. 2019 Many of their classmates are struggling, selling vegetables or doing menial labor. Annie Gowen, The Seattle Times, "India’s angry young men and its lynch-mob crisis," 27 Aug. 2018 That’s a concern for Russia’s workers and for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar , where migrant workers perform nearly all menial labor and have few legal rights. Washington Post, "Migrant workers the key to Russia’s smooth-running World Cup," 5 July 2018 But beyond that, my experience is that voicebots don't yet add much to the menial tasks of day-to-day computing. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "“Computer, lights:” How Ars staffers actually use voice-interactive bots," 3 Sep. 2018 After winning power in 2010, Mr. Orban implemented a vast workfare program in which menial tasks have been given to hundreds of thousands of jobseekers — including 73 of the 472 residents of Siklosnagyfalu, a village near the southern border. Patrick Kingsley And Benjamin Novak, New York Times, "An Economic Miracle in Hungary, or Just a Mirage?," 3 Apr. 2018 You either got married and had children or did menial jobs and starved. Lorraine Ali,, "Sunday Conversation: Lesley Manville discusses her wide-ranging career and new appreciation for TV," 5 July 2018 While in America Tsang’s mother had to work at menial jobs to support the family. Peter Keough,, "An immigrant story, atrocity tourism, the future of Barbie," 28 June 2018 The Forth Valley Royal Hospital, run by Serco, was the first in Britain to use automated guided vehicles to move laundry and waste around in the basement, saving about 40 menial jobs. The Economist, "Britain’s outsourcing model, copied around the world, is in trouble," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'menial.' 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 menial


14th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for menial

Adjective and Noun

Middle English meynial, from Anglo-French meignal, from mesnee, mayné household, retinue, from Vulgar Latin *mansionata, from Latin mansion-, mansio dwelling — more at mansion

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Time Traveler for menial

The first known use of menial was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for menial



English Language Learners Definition of menial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

old-fashioned : a person (such as a servant) who does boring or unpleasant work for little money : someone who does menial work



English Language Learners Definition of menial (Entry 2 of 2)

used to describe boring or unpleasant work that does not require special skill and usually does not pay much money


me·​nial | \ ˈmē-nē-əl , -nyəl\

Kids Definition of menial

: of or relating to boring or unpleasant work that does not require special skill menial tasks

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More from Merriam-Webster on menial

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with menial

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for menial

Spanish Central: Translation of menial

Nglish: Translation of menial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of menial for Arabic Speakers

Comments on menial

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