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grovel

[gruhv-uh l, grov-]
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verb (used without object), grov·eled, grov·el·ing or (especially British) grov·elled, grov·el·ling.
  1. to humble oneself or act in an abject manner, as in great fear or utter servility.
  2. to lie or crawl with the face downward and the body prostrate, especially in abject humility, fear, etc.
  3. to take pleasure in mean or base things.

Origin of grovel

1585–95; back formation from obsolete groveling (adv.), equivalent to obsolete grufe face down (< Old Norse ā grūfu face down) + -ling2, taken to be present participle
Related formsgrov·el·er; especially British, grov·el·ler, noungrov·el·ing·ly; especially British, grov·el·ling·ly, adverbun·grov·el·ing, adjectiveun·grov·el·ling, adjective
Can be confusedgavel gravel grovel

Synonyms

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1. truckle, toady, fawn, kowtow, pander.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for grovel

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Ali says she was like a wild beast, but he twisted her wrist and made her grovel in the dust.

  • The women shriek and swoon, grovel on the ground, and tear their hair.

  • But don't let him have her, don't let him be happy with her, while I grovel here in shame!

    In a Little Town

    Rupert Hughes

  • My clients came to me, singly and in pairs, to grovel and to implore.

    The Plum Tree

    David Graham Phillips

  • Do you think that I have followed you here to grovel at your feet for mere whim?

    Tommy and Co.

    Jerome K. Jerome


British Dictionary definitions for grovel

grovel

verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled (intr)
  1. to humble or abase oneself, as in making apologies or showing respect
  2. to lie or crawl face downwards, as in fear or humility
  3. (often foll by in) to indulge or take pleasure (in sensuality or vice)
Derived Formsgroveller, noungrovelling, noun, adjectivegrovellingly, adverb

Word Origin

C16: back formation from obsolete groveling (adv), from Middle English on grufe on the face, of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse ā grūfu, from grūfa prone position; see -ling ²
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

Word Origin and History for grovel

v.

1590s, Shakespearian back-formation of groveling (Middle English), regarded as a present participle but really an adverb, from Old Norse grufe "prone" + obsolete adverbial suffix -ling (which survives also as the -long in headlong, sidelong); first element from Old Norse a grufu "on proneness." Perhaps related to creep. Related: Groveled; grovelled; groveling; grovelling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper