1 a : to bend the knee
b : to touch the knee to the floor or ground especially in worship
2 : to be humbly obedient or respectful
"Other jazz pianists would pause to genuflect when they entered a room where Peterson was playing...." — David Hinckley, The New York Daily News, 25 Dec. 2007
"By abdicating [their] responsibility to provide a counterweight to the executive branch, legislative leaders are genuflecting at the feet of the governor." — Kevin Franck, The Boston Herald, 6 Oct. 2016
Did You Know?
Genuflect is derived from the Late Latin genuflectere, formed from the noun genu ("knee") and the verb flectere ("to bend"). Flectere appears in a number of our more common verbs, such as reflect ("to bend or throw back," as light) and deflect ("to turn aside"). By comparison genu sees little use in English, but it did give us geniculate, a word often used in scientific contexts to mean "bent abruptly at an angle like a bent knee." Despite the resemblance, words such as genius and genuine are not related to genuflect; instead, they are of a family that includes the Latin verb gignere, meaning "to beget."
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Fill in the blanks to complete an adjective that derives from Latin flectere and means "turned or bent abruptly backward": r _ _ ro _ le _.VIEW THE ANSWER
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