me·​nial | \ ˈmē-nē-əl How to pronounce menial (audio) , -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

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of menial in a Sentence

Noun immigrants to that country faced fierce prejudice and could expect to find work only as menials Adjective 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 Haastrup said the surgery, which runs into thousands of dollars, was done free of charge to the parents, who work in menial jobs and would not have been able to afford the surgery. Bukola Adebayo, CNN, "Nigerian conjoined twins successfully separated by 78-member team in Abuja," 8 Jan. 2020 Men confused the distinction between woman and animal, not only through rape, but by keeping women illiterate, pregnant, and exhausted, tasked with the menial labor of keeping the colony fed and clean and clothed. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Miriam Toews’s Quiet Revolution," 26 June 2019 Muchnik’s older brothers were forced into service, doing menial tasks such as cleaning toilets. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "For Holocaust survivors, Hanukkah marks time to celebrate outside the shadows," 23 Dec. 2019 Most menial jobs are carried out by Dalits; few office jobs are. Washington Post, "India’s Caste System," 25 Oct. 2019 Labourers must still pick around ten kilos—perhaps an hour’s work—to earn a dollar, but that is comparable to other menial jobs. The Economist, "For the sake of workers, Uzbekistan is privatising its cotton industry," 17 Oct. 2019 Seymour was an orphan until Mr. Mushnik (a bagel-chomping, wholly real and unerringly wonderful Kevin Chamberlin) took him in and gave him a menial job, meatloaf and water, and every other Sunday off. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ at Pasadena Playhouse finds humanity amid the musical camp," 27 Sep. 2019 Black government workers were still often delegated to lower-level, menial jobs, but there was a clearer path to advance into the white-collar and supervisory echelon. Bryce Covert, Longreads, "Downsizing the American Black Middle Class," 24 Sep. 2019 With smart tech controlling your lamps, ceiling fans and outside fixtures, this menial task is no longer necessary. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "10 things you don’t need around the house anymore because of tech," 2 Dec. 2019

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

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

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Cite this Entry

“Menial.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for menial


How to pronounce menial (audio)

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 How to pronounce menial (audio) , -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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for menial

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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a feeling of well-being or elation

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