Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[sur-vil, -vahyl] /ˈsɜr vɪl, -vaɪl/
slavishly submissive or obsequious; fawning:
servile flatterers.
characteristic of, proper to, or customary for slaves; abject:
servile obedience.
yielding slavishly; truckling (usually followed by to).
extremely imitative, especially in the arts; lacking in originality.
being in slavery; oppressed.
of, relating to, or involving slaves or servants.
of or relating to a condition of servitude or property ownership in which a person is held as a slave or as partially enslaved:
medieval rebellions against servile laws.
Origin of servile
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin servīlis, equivalent to serv- (stem of servīre to be a slave) + -īlis -ile
Related forms
servilely, adverb
servility, servileness, noun
nonservile, adjective
nonservilely, adverb
nonservileness, noun
overservile, adjective
overservilely, adverb
overservileness, noun
overservility, noun
pseudoservile, adjective
pseudoservilely, adverb
unservile, adjective
unservilely, adverb
1, 2. cringing, sycophantic. Servile, menial, obsequious, slavish characterize one who behaves like a slave or an inferior. Servile suggests cringing, fawning, and abject submission: servile responses to questions. Menial applies to that which is considered undesirable drudgery: the most menial tasks. Obsequious implies the ostentatious subordination of oneself to the wishes of another, either from fear or from hope of gain: an obsequious waiter. Slavish stresses the dependence and labori-ous toil of one who follows or obeys without question: slavish attentiveness to orders. 2. mean, base, low.
1. aggressive. 2. exalted. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for servilely
Historical Examples
  • "Yes, sir; and I beg a thousand pardons," said Darby, servilely.

  • And the words and her attitude recalled that other time she was servilely at his feet.

    The Way of the Gods John Luther Long
  • It was her nature, as we have said, servilely to copy others.

  • "I can fix anything like that, Mr. Cowperwood," he replied, servilely.

    The Financier Theodore Dreiser
  • Most of these novelties were servilely copied from French aviation.

    Georges Guynemer Henry Bordeaux
  • Must Ireland have no character of its own but be servilely imitative of its neighbor in all things and be nothing of itself?

    Imaginations and Reveries (A.E.) George William Russell
  • They rebelliously reject the plain commands of God, and yet servilely cringe to the humours and caprices of their fellow-men.

    The Expositor's Bible: Alfred Plummer
  • In due time the lawyers were ushered in, and both greeted Banker Brown servilely.

    Deadwood Dick Jr. Branded Ed. L. Wheeler
  • He did not hesitate to take issue with the theories and statements of Galen, and criticised those who adopted them too servilely.

  • A truth which we accept with closed eyes, submissively, deferentially, servilely—such a truth is nothing but a lie.

    The Forerunners Romain Rolland
British Dictionary definitions for servilely


obsequious or fawning in attitude or behaviour; submissive
of or suitable for a slave
existing in or relating to a state of slavery
when postpositive, foll by to. submitting or obedient
Derived Forms
servilely, adverb
servility (sɜːˈvɪlɪtɪ), servileness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin servīlis, from servus slave
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for servilely



late 14c., from Latin servilis "of a slave" (as in Servile Wars, name given to the slave revolts in the late Roman Republic), also "slavish, servile," from servus "slave" (see serve (v.)). Earliest sense was legal, servile work being forbidden on the Sabbath; sense of "cringing, fawning" first recorded c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for servilely

Word Value for servilely

Scrabble Words With Friends