sub·​ser·​vi·​ence | \ səb-ˈsər-vē-ən(t)s How to pronounce subservience (audio) \

Definition of subservience

1 : a subservient or subordinate place or function
2 : obsequious servility

Examples of subservience in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The remarkable break between the two men - played out over a tense few days as the country convulsed from a riot spurred on by the president - is a startling capstone to a relationship long defined by Pence's loyalty and subservience. Josh Dawsey,, "Inside the remarkable rift between Trump, Pence," 11 Jan. 2021 To the end of his life Dr. Mehta held himself responsible for Ved’s blindness, which had arisen amid circumstances that encapsulated the class-consciousness and learned subservience that India’s colonial history entailed. Margalit Fox, New York Times, "Ved Mehta, Writer Who Illuminated India, Is Dead at 86," 10 Jan. 2021 Luther demanded absolute subservience to the German prince by his flock, no matter how bad the prince might be. Win Mccormack, The New Republic, "Getting to Denmark," 30 Dec. 2020 As long as Trump, or a like-minded successor, retains the support of eight out of ten G.O.P. voters, the default mode of most Republican politicians will be subservience and self-abasement, even in the face of further democratic erosion. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The Next Big Challenge: Trump-Proofing the Presidency," 29 Dec. 2020 Exchanging glimpses of flesh for beads, on the other hand, replaced symbolic subservience with a free-market mentality. Doug Maccash | Staff Writer,, "Did flashing for Mardi Gras beads begin in 1976? No, no, no, say readers," 9 Dec. 2020 Compliance connotes passive subservience while adherence means actively giving support to something. Jessica Stuart, STAT, "I was a ‘nonadherent’ patient. That’s made me a more empathetic doctor," 6 Nov. 2020 The image of Uncle Ben, an older, smiling Black man wearing a bow tie, has long drawn criticism for perpetuating a stereotype of Black subservience. Marie Fazio New York Times, Star Tribune, "Cream of Wheat latest brand to shed Black character image," 27 Sep. 2020 But its proposal would do nothing to allay fears of ByteDance’s general subservience to the CCP. Jimmy Quinn, National Review, "Trump Should Make Good on His Threat to Ban TikTok," 16 Sep. 2020

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

circa 1676, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about subservience

Time Traveler for subservience

Time Traveler

The first known use of subservience was circa 1676

See more words from the same year

Statistics for subservience

Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Subservience.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

More from Merriam-Webster on subservience

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for subservience

Comments on subservience

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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