• synonyms


[mee-nee-uhl, meen-yuhl]
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  1. lowly and sometimes degrading: menial work.
  2. servile; submissive: menial attitudes.
  3. pertaining to or suitable for domestic servants; humble: menial furnishings.
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  1. a domestic servant.
  2. a servile person.
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Origin of menial

1350–1400; Middle English meynyal < Anglo-French me(i)nial. See meiny, -al1
Related formsme·ni·al·ly, adverbnon·me·ni·al, adjectivenon·me·ni·al·ly, adverbun·me·ni·al, adjectiveun·me·ni·al·ly, adverb


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2. fawning. See servile. 4. attendant, underling, hireling, lackey.


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

Related Words

humdrum, boring, base, low, routine, mean, common, abject, degrading, dull, fawning, humble, ignoble, ignominious, obeisant, obsequious, servile, slavish, sorry, subservient

Examples from the Web for menial

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • They may be had tied in bundles by the employers of menial labor.

  • He is going to work, to be a menial, to earn a living by honest means?

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • He was doorkeeper to the household, so he began on the duties of his menial position.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • And there were other things, and worse,—menial services of the lowest kind.

    Dr. Sevier

    George W. Cable

  • Many would scoff, and call it menial Let them, if they will.

    Arthur O'Leary

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for menial


  1. consisting of or occupied with work requiring little skill, esp domestic duties such as cleaning
  2. of, involving, or befitting servants
  3. servile
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  1. a domestic servant
  2. a servile person
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Derived Formsmenially, adverb

Word Origin

C14: from Anglo-Norman meignial, from Old French meinie household. See meiny
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 menial


late 14c., "pertaining to a household," from Anglo-French meignial, from Old French mesnie "household," earlier mesnede, from Vulgar Latin *mansionata, from Latin mansionem "dwelling" (see mansion). Sense of "lowly, humble, suited to a servant" is recorded by 1670s.

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"domestic servant," late 14c., meynyal; see menial (adj.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper