adjective ob·se·qui·ous \ əb-ˈsē-kwē-əs , äb- \
|Updated on: 14 Jul 2018

Definition of obsequious

: marked by or exhibiting a fawning attentiveness





obsequious was our Word of the Day on 10/01/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of obsequious in a Sentence

  1. But the Democratic presidential nominee is commonly referred to as Elvis, and his running mate as Eddie Haskell, that obsequious weenie from '50s TV. —Guy TrebayVillage Voice28 July 1992
  2. He could wear an oxford shirt and necktie and speak the local language, in every sense, and never act obsequious or look as though he felt out of place. —Tracy KidderNew England MonthlyApril 1990
  3. The obsequious villagers touched their caps but sneered behind her back. —"George Sand," 1980, in V. S. Pritchett: A Man of Letters1985
  4. Nash's other hand flashed forward a lighter with the obsequious speed of a motor salesman. —Ian FlemingFrom Russia, With Love1957
  5. She's constantly followed by obsequious assistants who will do anything she tells them to.

Recent Examples of obsequious from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obsequious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Follow Along With the Definition of obsequious

An obsequious person is more likely to be a follower than a leader. Use that fact to help you remember the meaning of "obsequious." All you need to do is bear in mind that the word comes from the Latin root sequi, meaning "to follow." (The other contributor is the prefix ob-, meaning "toward.") "Sequi" is the source of a number of other English words, too, including "consequence" (a result that follows from an action), "sequel" (a novel, film, or TV show that follows an original version), and "non sequitur" (a conclusion that doesn’t follow from what was said before).

Origin and Etymology of obsequious

Middle English, compliant, from Latin obsequiosus, from obsequium compliance, from obsequi to comply, from ob- toward + sequi to follow — more at ob-, sue

Synonym Discussion of obsequious

subservient, servile, slavish, obsequious mean showing or characterized by extreme compliance or abject obedience. subservient implies the cringing manner of one very conscious of a subordinate position.
    • domestic help was expected to be properly subservient
servile suggests the mean or fawning behavior of a slave.
    • a political boss and his entourage of servile hangers-on
slavish suggests abject or debased servility.
    • the slavish status of migrant farm workers
obsequious implies fawning or sycophantic compliance and exaggerated deference of manner.
    • waiters who are obsequious in the presence of celebrities

OBSEQUIOUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of obsequious for English Language Learners

  • : too eager to help or obey someone important

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one who attends or assists a leader

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