grovel

[gruhv-uhl, grov-]
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.

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

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


Examples from the Web for grovelled

Historical Examples of grovelled

  • He grovelled on the divan heavy in thought and with pendent arms.

    Therese Raquin

    Emile Zola

  • I grovelled at your feet and begged you—you spurned me as I do you now.

    Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer

    Cyrus Townsend Brady

  • By the side of the man he rose, and the man shrieked and grovelled.

  • Meiser flung down his revolver, and grovelled like a beast at Fougas' feet.

  • Then Tua spoke, looking down at the wretched Abi who grovelled before her.

    Morning Star

    H. Rider Haggard


British Dictionary definitions for grovelled

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)
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 grovelled

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper