ser·​vile | \ ˈsər-vəl How to pronounce servile (audio) , -ˌvī(-ə)l \

Definition of servile

1 : of or befitting a menial position
2 : meanly or cravenly submissive : abject

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Other Words from servile

servilely \ ˈsər-​və(l)-​lē How to pronounce servile (audio) , -​ˌvī(-​ə)l-​lē \ adverb
servileness \ ˈsər-​vəl-​nəs How to pronounce servile (audio) , -​ˌvī(-​ə)l-​ \ noun
servility \ (ˌ)sər-​ˈvi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce servile (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for servile


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Examples of servile in a Sentence

had always maintained a servile attitude around people with money
Recent Examples on the Web For India’s mostly servile media, this is a striking break from the usual after seven years of Modi. Debasish Roy Chowdhury, Time, "It Isn't Just Modi. India’s Compliant Media Must Also Take Responsibility for the COVID-19 Crisis," 3 May 2021 Julie Andrews played Cinderella—neat as a new pin and not remotely servile. Carol Dyhouse, Time, "What the Rise and Fall of the Cinderella Fairy Tale Means for Real Women Today," 19 Apr. 2021 As a result of this sort of culture, the stereotype of dancers as servile bodies that are better seen than heard unfortunately calcified long ago. Sydney Skybetter, Wired, "How Choreography Can Help Robots Come Alive," 7 Feb. 2021 In a party that has been largely servile, Romney's courage stands out. Peter Beinart, Star Tribune, "Why are there so few courageous senators?," 18 Jan. 2021 Pence turned himself into the most unfailingly servile sidekick in vice-presidential history. Star Tribune, "Republicans, the case for impeachment is clear," 12 Jan. 2021 The others at the table nodded their heads in servile agreement. Keith Mcnally, Harpers Magazine, "Pour Decisions," 5 Jan. 2021 What struck General McMaster was how Mr. Li’s monologue suggested an almost neocolonial relationship between a superior China and a servile U.S. Ann Scott Tyson, The Christian Science Monitor, "Fueling US-China clash, years of disconnects," 2 Oct. 2020 Early Blackamoor figures, made from expensive ebony and silver, were almost always shown in servile positions—as as the base of a table, or supporting a candelabra, or even acting as a seat. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, "There’s No Excuse for Buying or Decorating With Blackamoors," 28 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'servile.' 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 servile

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for servile

Middle English, from Anglo-French servil, from Latin servilis, from servus slave

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Time Traveler for servile

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The first known use of servile was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Servile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for servile



English Language Learners Definition of servile

formal + disapproving : very obedient and trying too hard to please someone


ser·​vile | \ ˈsər-vəl How to pronounce servile (audio) \

Kids Definition of servile

1 : of or suitable to a slave servile work
2 : very obedient and trying too hard to please

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