slav·​ish | \ ˈslā-vish How to pronounce slavish (audio) , sometimes ˈsla- \

Definition of slavish

1a : of or characteristic of a slave especially : basely or abjectly servile
b archaic : despicable, low
2 archaic : oppressive, tyrannical
3 : copying obsequiously or without originality : imitative

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from slavish

slavishly adverb
slavishness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for slavish

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

Examples of slavish in a Sentence

a politician and his slavish followers He has been criticized for his slavish devotion to the rules.
Recent Examples on the Web There are long periods where very little happens, which is covered up only slightly by their slavish devotion to expensive technology that shows real-time, county-by-county data. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Fate of American Democracy Is in the Hands of Cable News," 3 Nov. 2020 Lotus argued that this slavish copying violated its copyrights, and the trial court agreed. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "The Supreme Court hears Oracle v. Google tomorrow—here’s what’s at stake," 6 Oct. 2020 The director of Seven Years in Tibet, Jean-Jacques Annaud, subsequently released a letter expressing slavish regret. Rich Lowry, National Review, "Hollywood Shamefully Kowtows to Beijing," 9 Sep. 2020 These are not slavish recreations; Caro has added her own touch to the scenes, slightly tweaking some, while others are more significantly altered. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: Sumptuously reimagined Mulan turns Disney princess into a true warrior," 5 Sep. 2020 Trump’s ever-slavish Vice-President managed to mention him thirty-three times in his thirty-six-minute speech. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, "The Malign Fantasy of Donald Trump’s Convention," 28 Aug. 2020 With so much weight to haul around, the slavish devotion of every one of the 150 horses produced by the 3.5-liter aluminum V-8 engine is required to keep the RR rovering along. Tony Assenza, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1987 Range Rover Makes Luxury and SUV Compatible," 30 June 2020 In fact, a slavish devotion to our devices has come to feel like a practical necessity. Amanda Hess, New York Times, "The Unending Anxiety of Coronavirus Content," 18 Mar. 2020 Military regimes bolster their legitimacy by slavish devotion to the crown. The Economist, "Relations between Thailand’s army and king are becoming one-sided," 5 Sep. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of slavish

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about slavish

Time Traveler for slavish

Time Traveler

The first known use of slavish was in 1565

See more words from the same year

Statistics for slavish

Cite this Entry

“Slavish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for slavish


How to pronounce slavish (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of slavish

disapproving : copying or following someone or something completely without any attempt to be original or independent


slav·​ish | \ ˈslā-vish How to pronounce slavish (audio) \

Kids Definition of slavish

: following, copying, or accepting something or someone without questioning slavish imitators

More from Merriam-Webster on slavish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for slavish

Nglish: Translation of slavish for Spanish Speakers

Comments on slavish

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!