slav·​ish | \ˈslā-vish, 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

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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

One of the wittier details in DeMonaco’s functional, largely generic script finds the slavish TV news anchors frustrated by the purge’s relatively sluggish start. Michael Phillips, The Seattle Times, "‘The First Purge’: Violent, erratic prequel shows how it all began," 3 July 2018 But from a certain angle, Incredibles 2 looks a little too slavish to creaky conventions. Richard Lawson, HWD, "Incredibles 2 Review: Superhero Action That’s Familiar, but Fantastic," 11 June 2018 How slavish should subsequent sequels and spin-offs be to the originals? Jake Coyle And Lindsey Bahr, San Francisco Chronicle, "In ‘Solo’ stumble, a crossroads for Disney’s ‘Star Wars’," 5 June 2018 Microsoft has had good opportunities to do something about this, but they have been systematically squandered through a combination of ineptitude, mismanagement, and slavish adherence to backwards compatibility. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "From Win32 to Cocoa: A Windows user’s would-be conversion to Mac OS, part II," 27 May 2018 Too often musicians cover Dylan with such slavish devotion to the original recordings, their versions veer toward reverent karaoke. Ken Capobianco,, "If she sings it, then Bettye Lavette is going to own it," 10 May 2018 Other shows that talk politics are slavish to the liberal point of view, to the point of being boring and predictable. Chris Varias,, "Bill Maher: We cannot stop talking to each other," 1 May 2018 Republicans, who poured in millions of dollars in ads against Mr. Lamb, tried to paint him as a slavish follower of the California Democrat. Michael Tackett And Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "Who Is Conor Lamb, Winner in a Special House Race in Pennsylvania?," 14 Mar. 2018 True believers shaved their heads, wore overalls, and lived together at Synanon compounds, professing an almost slavish obedience to Dederich, no matter how brutal his methods. Hillel Aron, Los Angeles Magazine, "The Story of This Drug Rehab-Turned-Violent Cult Is Wild, Wild Country-Caliber Bizarre," 23 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of slavish

1565, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for slavish

The first known use of slavish was in 1565

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More Definitions for slavish



English Language Learners Definition of slavish

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


slav·​ish | \ˈslā-vish \

Kids Definition of slavish

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

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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).


by force of circumstances

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