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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 obsequiousness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Voltaire is a monkey in mischief, and a spaniel in obsequiousness.

    Imaginary Conversations and Poems Walter Savage Landor
  • If so, it would account for the obsequiousness of his host, though not satisfactorily.

    The Wild Huntress Mayne Reid
  • They saluted us with an obsequiousness most unusual in free Switzerland.

    Wagner at Home Judith Gautier
  • Harland was annoyed at this obsequiousness which he had never received.

  • All the women, with various degrees of obsequiousness, begged her to do it.

    Comrade Yetta Albert Edwards
  • He presented it to his employer with a certain duplication of a butler's obsequiousness.

    Birthright T.S. Stribling
  • She was fairly desperate; all her obsequiousness had disappeared.

    The Debtor Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • But, for all his obsequiousness, the admirable Harrow was a persistent diplomat.


    Charles Neville Buck
  • All sweetness and obsequiousness will I be on this occasion.

    Clarissa, Volume 6 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
British Dictionary definitions for obsequiousness


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 obsequiousness



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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