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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 obsequiously
Historical Examples
  • "Your Excellency has not added your address," said the clerk, obsequiously.

    Tony Butler Charles James Lever
  • Anna nodded, and Mr. Earles attended her obsequiously to the door.

    Anna the Adventuress E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • “High, well-born, and most gracious madame,” said he obsequiously.

    Fritz and Eric John Conroy Hutcheson
  • The proprietor served him obsequiously but did not venture to talk.

    Dubliners James Joyce
  • Dishes were obsequiously offered for inspection and approval.

    The Kingdom Round the Corner Coningsby Dawson
  • "Won't you please to walk into the parlor, sir," said Mr. Chubb, obsequiously.

  • "You look agitated," said Dr. Hugh, bending toward me obsequiously.

    Rutledge Miriam Coles Harris
  • "Well, sir, your will is law," said Crawley obsequiously but sadly.

  • Leonie almost threw the food at me, but she served Letitia most obsequiously.

    Wanted: A Cook Alan Dale
  • "I assure you, Mr. Bunbury," bleated the unhappy Fillmore, obsequiously.

    The Adventures of Sally P. G. Wodehouse
British Dictionary definitions for obsequiously


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 obsequiously



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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