[ gruhv-uhl, grov- ]
See synonyms for: grovelgrovelinggrovellinggroveler on

verb (used without object),grov·eled, grov·el·ing or (especially British) grov·elled, grov·el·ling.
  1. to humble oneself or act in an abject manner, as in great fear or utter servility.

  2. to lie or crawl with the face downward and the body prostrate, especially in abject humility, fear, etc.

  1. to take pleasure in mean or base things.

Origin of grovel

1585–95; back formation from obsolete groveling (adv.), equivalent to obsolete grufe face down (<Old Norse ā grūfu face down) + -ling2, taken to be present participle

Other words for grovel

Other words from grovel

  • grov·el·er; especially British, grov·el·ler, noun
  • grov·el·ing·ly; especially British, grov·el·ling·ly, adverb
  • un·grov·el·ing, adjective
  • un·grov·el·ling, adjective

Words that may be confused with grovel

Words Nearby grovel Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use grovel in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for grovel


/ (ˈɡrɒvəl) /

verb-els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled (intr)
  1. to humble or abase oneself, as in making apologies or showing respect

  2. to lie or crawl face downwards, as in fear or humility

  1. (often foll by in) to indulge or take pleasure (in sensuality or vice)

Origin of grovel

C16: back formation from obsolete groveling (adv), from Middle English on grufe on the face, of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse ā grūfu, from grūfa prone position; see -ling ²

Derived forms of grovel

  • groveller, noun
  • grovelling, noun, adjective
  • grovellingly, adverb

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