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grovel

[gruhv-uhl, grov-]
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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.
  3. to take pleasure in mean or base things.
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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
Related formsgrov·el·er; especially British, grov·el·ler, noungrov·el·ing·ly; especially British, grov·el·ling·ly, adverbun·grov·el·ing, adjectiveun·grov·el·ling, adjective
Can be confusedgavel gravel grovel

Synonyms for grovel

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for groveling

fawning, cringing, humble, docile, submissive

Examples from the Web for groveling

Contemporary Examples of groveling

Historical Examples of groveling

  • He grabbed the groveling butcher and hoisted him from his wallow.

    Louisiana Lou

    William West Winter

  • How groveling must be the ignorance which can be thus blinded!

    Aztec Land

    Maturin M. Ballou

  • They had not the low and groveling spirit which usually incites mobs.

  • If in that moment she appeared a groveling thing, it was only for a moment.

    The Blue Wall

    Richard Washburn Child

  • At every step she had to purchase silence by groveling humility.

    Germinie Lacerteux

    Edmond and Jules de Goncourt


British Dictionary definitions for groveling

grovel

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
  3. (often foll by in) to indulge or take pleasure (in sensuality or vice)
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Derived Formsgroveller, noungrovelling, noun, adjectivegrovellingly, adverb

Word Origin for 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
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 groveling

grovel

v.

1590s, Shakespearian back-formation of groveling (Middle English), regarded as a present participle but really an adverb, from Old Norse grufe "prone" + obsolete adverbial suffix -ling (which survives also as the -long in headlong, sidelong); first element from Old Norse a grufu "on proneness." Perhaps related to creep. Related: Groveled; grovelled; groveling; grovelling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper