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[uh b-see-kwee-uh s] /əbˈsi kwi əs/
characterized by or showing servile complaisance or deference; fawning:
an obsequious bow.
servilely compliant or deferential:
obsequious servants.
obedient; dutiful.
Origin of obsequious
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Latin obsequiōsus, equivalent to obsequi(um) compliance (obsequ(ī) to comply with (ob- ob- + sequī to follow) + -ium -ium) + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
obsequiously, adverb
obsequiousness, noun
overobsequious, adjective
overobsequiously, adverb
overobsequiousness, noun
unobsequious, adjective
unobsequiously, adverb
unobsequiousness, noun
Can be confused
obsequies, obsequious.
1. sycophantic, flattering. 2. cringing, submissive. See servile. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for obsequious
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "The same, Sir, at your service," replied the obsequious valet.

    Gomez Arias Joaqun Telesforo de Trueba y Coso
  • Who knows, thought I, but I owe all this obsequious deference to my horse?

  • He dropped her hand at the obsequious voice of the waiter at his elbow.

    Miss Pat at School

    Pemberton Ginther
  • It took a Tudor will to do the deed, and it took an obsequious Tudor age to accept it.

    Clare Avery Emily Sarah Holt
  • Selim was most obsequious, and seemed ready to do everything for my comfort.

    Paul Patoff

    F. Marion Crawford
  • The bland, obsequious, well-informed Ramsay became a great favourite.

    Art in England

    Dutton Cook
  • Finally, he stopped and stood before the obsequious Basilivitch.

    Rabbi and Priest

    Milton Goldsmith
  • The landlord, obsequious and frightened, waited on the party himself.

    The Northern Iron George A. Birmingham
British Dictionary definitions for obsequious


obedient or attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner
(rare) submissive or compliant
Derived Forms
obsequiously, adverb
obsequiousness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin obsequiōsus compliant, from obsequium compliance, from obsequi to follow, from ob- to + sequi to follow
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 obsequious

late 15c., "prompt to serve," from Middle French obséquieux (15c.), from Latin obsequiosus "compliant, obedient," from obsequium "compliance, dutiful service," from obsequi "to accommodate oneself to the will of another," from ob "after" (see ob-) + sequi "to follow" (see sequel). Pejorative sense of "fawning, sycophantic" had emerged by 1590s. Related: Obsequiously; obsequiousness (mid-15c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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