ob·​se·​qui·​ous əb-ˈsē-kwē-əs How to pronounce obsequious (audio)
: marked by or exhibiting a fawning attentiveness
obsequiously adverb
obsequiousness noun

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Follow Along With the Definition of Obsequious

According to the origin of the word, an obsequious person is more likely to be a follower than a leader. The word comes from Latin sequi, meaning "to follow"; the prefix ob- means "toward."

Examples of obsequious in a Sentence

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 Trebay, Village Voice, 28 July 1992
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 Kidder, New England Monthly, April 1990
The obsequious villagers touched their caps but sneered behind her back. "George Sand," 1980, in V. S. Pritchett: A Man of Letters1985
Nash's other hand flashed forward a lighter with the obsequious speed of a motor salesman. Ian Fleming, From Russia, With Love, 1957
She's constantly followed by obsequious assistants who will do anything she tells them to.
Recent Examples on the Web Actors like Alain Delon and Dennis Hopper have tried the role; Matt Damon played him as an obsequious, lower-class naïf; John Malkovich, as a slimy, camp killer. Zing Tsjeng, Vogue, 20 Mar. 2024 Macfadyen has been celebrated for his work as the scheming, obsequious Tom in Succession, for which he’s won two Emmys. James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Feb. 2024 See all Example Sentences for obsequious 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'obsequious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1602, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of obsequious was in 1602


Dictionary Entries Near obsequious

Cite this Entry

“Obsequious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obsequious. Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


ob·​se·​qui·​ous əb-ˈsē-kwē-əs How to pronounce obsequious (audio)
: overly eager to help or obey at the wish or command of another person especially to gain favor

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