verb (used without object)

to bend the knee or touch one knee to the floor in reverence or worship.
to express a servile attitude.

Origin of genuflect

1620–30; < Medieval Latin genūflectere to bend the knee, equivalent to Latin genū-, stem of genu knee + flectere to bend
Related formsgen·u·flec·tor, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for genuflect

stoop, curtsy, bow

Examples from the Web for genuflect

Contemporary Examples of genuflect

Historical Examples of genuflect

  • It hurt Sophia just to watch her struggle to genuflect before the cardinal.

  • If it is a Roman Catholic wedding they genuflect as they reach the chancel.

    The Complete Bachelor

    Walter Germain

  • It was well for the people to know when to kneel, when to bow the head, and when to genuflect.

    Robert Annys: Poor Priest

    Annie Nathan Meyer

  • Should we not, when we enter the church, genuflect, bend the knee in His honor?

  • "It's customary to genuflect when you enter the Viceroy's presence," said the standing one at last.


    L. J. Stecher

British Dictionary definitions for genuflect


verb (intr)

to act in a servile or deferential manner
RC Church to bend one or both knees as a sign of reverence, esp when passing before the Blessed Sacrament
Derived Formsgenuflection or esp British genuflexion, noungenuflector, noun

Word Origin for genuflect

C17: from Medieval Latin genūflectere, from Latin genu knee + flectere to bend
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 genuflect

1620s, back-formation from genuflection. Related: Genuflected; genuflecting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper