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

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

This photo exemplifies his ability to block out distractions, focus on whatever menial task is in front of him and win football games. The Mmqb Staff,, "Favorite Storylines of the 2019 NFL Offseason," 30 Aug. 2019 Prisoners use them to arrange family visits, freeing warders from menial tasks to spend more time with prisoners. The Economist, "What Britain’s private prisons can teach public ones," 2 Aug. 2019 Until recently, Swedes were not accustomed to hiring people for menial work, typically preferring to clean their own homes. Peter S. Goodman, New York Times, "The Nordic Model May Be the Best Cushion Against Capitalism. Can It Survive Immigration?," 11 July 2019 On the $1/day that detainees at Adelanto Detention Facility can earn for working menial jobs, the decision comes down to maintaining hygiene versus managing hunger. Stephie Grob Plante, Vox, "Some people held in border detention centers are being forced to bathe themselves with shampoo. The issue is far bigger than personal hygiene.," 3 July 2019 Rebounding at shootaround, squeegeeing off sweat, fetching water bottles, those sorts of menial tasks. Alex Prewitt,, "Out of the Darkness: Isaiah Austin Searches for Peace Without the NBA," 14 June 2019 Employees of Worry Free dress in jumpsuits, get free room and board (in shoebox apartments), and spend their whole lives doing menial work. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Sorry to Bother You Is Fizzy, Flawed, and Fascinating," 6 July 2018 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

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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Statistics for menial

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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 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

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

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


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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