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[jen-yoo-flekt] /ˈdʒɛn yʊˌflɛkt/
verb (used without object)
to bend the knee or touch one knee to the floor in reverence or worship.
to express a servile attitude.
Origin of genuflect
1620-30; < Medieval Latin genūflectere to bend the knee, equivalent to Latin genū-, stem of genu knee + flectere to bend
Related forms
genuflector, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for genuflect
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It hurt Sophia just to watch her struggle to genuflect before the cardinal.

  • If it is a Roman Catholic wedding they genuflect as they reach the chancel.

    The Complete Bachelor Walter Germain
  • It was well for the people to know when to kneel, when to bow the head, and when to genuflect.

    Robert Annys: Poor Priest Annie Nathan Meyer
  • Should we not, when we enter the church, genuflect, bend the knee in His honor?

  • "It's customary to genuflect when you enter the Viceroy's presence," said the standing one at last.

    Upstarts L. J. Stecher
  • He does not require a lady to genuflect before him to show her appreciation of a gentlemanly act.

British Dictionary definitions for genuflect


verb (intransitive)
to act in a servile or deferential manner
(RC Church) to bend one or both knees as a sign of reverence, esp when passing before the Blessed Sacrament
Derived Forms
genuflection, especially (Brit) genuflexion, noun
genuflector, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin genūflectere, from Latin genu knee + flectere to bend
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for genuflect

1620s, back-formation from genuflection. Related: Genuflected; genuflecting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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