ob·​se·​qui·​ous | \ əb-ˈsē-kwē-əs How to pronounce obsequious (audio) , äb- \

Definition of obsequious

: marked by or exhibiting a fawning attentiveness

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Other Words from obsequious

obsequiously adverb
obsequiousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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).

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Bolton also accused Trump of making obsequious appeals to Xi to buy produce from farmers in states considered vital to his reelection campaign. Steven Lee Myers, BostonGlobe.com, "China lashes out at the United States over Xinjiang sanctions law," 18 June 2020 Critics described him variously as pompous, sycophantic, unctuous, oleaginous and obsequious. Jo Craven Mcginty, New York Times, "James Lipton, ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ Host, Dies at 93," 2 Mar. 2020 Suspicions that Pakistan was being overly obsequious grew last week after the country resumed commercial flights to China. Maria Abi-habib, New York Times, "As Foreigners Flee China, Pakistan Tells Its Citizens to Stay," 10 Mar. 2020 Dour versus obsequious The half-hour call started with pleasantries but quickly took a sharp detour. Nancy Benac, The Denver Post, "What happened on July 25, the day Trump asked Zelenskiy for a favor," 30 Nov. 2019 Trump's own vice president, Mike Pence, has been criticized for being too obsequious to the president. Author: Seung Min Kim, Aaron Blake, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump attacks Bidens in personal and coarse terms at Minnesota rally," 11 Oct. 2019 And yet Trump is in such a state now that his new talking point is that Fox News is not sufficiently accurate (read: sufficiently obsequious). David Remnick, The New Yorker, "“Stupid Watergate” Is Worse Than the Original," 4 Oct. 2019 Often deferential to the point of obsequious, standards of journalistic objectivity were sometimes obscured, but for fandoms, there was no better space than the blog synonymous with EDM. -- Z.M. 77. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The Top 100 Moments of the EDM Decade," 17 Dec. 2019 During the Obama administration, Erdogan snubbed the obsequious American attempts to promote Turkey as the cornerstone of America’s Middle East policy. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Untenable Alliance Is No Turkish Delight," 24 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of obsequious

1602, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for obsequious

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

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Time Traveler for obsequious

Time Traveler

The first known use of obsequious was in 1602

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Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Obsequious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obsequious. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for obsequious


How to pronounce obsequious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obsequious

disapproving : too eager to help or obey someone important

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More from Merriam-Webster on obsequious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for obsequious

Spanish Central: Translation of obsequious

Nglish: Translation of obsequious for Spanish Speakers

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