[ sur-vil, -vahyl ]
See synonyms for: servileservilenessservility on

  1. slavishly submissive or obsequious; fawning: servile flatterers.

  2. characteristic of, proper to, or customary for slaves; abject: servile obedience.

  1. yielding slavishly; truckling (usually followed by to).

  2. extremely imitative, especially in the arts; lacking in originality.

  3. being in slavery; oppressed.

  4. of, relating to, or involving slaves or servants.

  5. of or relating to a condition of servitude or property ownership in which a person is held in slavery or partially enslaved: medieval rebellions against servile laws.

Origin of servile

First recorded in 1400–50; Middle English servil(e), serville, from Latin servīlis “of a slave, slavish, servile,” equivalent to serv- (stem of servus “slave”) + -īlis -ile;see also serf

synonym study For servile

1, 2. Servile, menial, obsequious, slavish characterize one who behaves like a slave or an inferior. Servile suggests cringing, fawning, and abject submission: servile responses to questions. Menial applies to that which is considered undesirable drudgery: the most menial tasks. Obsequious implies the ostentatious subordination of oneself to the wishes of another, either from fear or from hope of gain: an obsequious waiter. Slavish stresses the dependence and labori-ous toil of one who follows or obeys without question: slavish attentiveness to orders.

Other words for servile

Opposites for servile

Other words from servile

  • ser·vile·ly, adverb
  • ser·vil·i·ty [sur-vil-i-tee], /ˌsɜrˈvɪl ɪ ti/, ser·vile·ness, noun
  • non·ser·vile, adjective
  • non·ser·vile·ly, adverb
  • o·ver·ser·vile, adjective
  • o·ver·ser·vile·ly, adverb
  • pseu·do·ser·vile, adjective
  • pseu·do·ser·vile·ly, adverb
  • un·ser·vile, adjective
  • un·ser·vile·ly, adverb

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

How to use servile in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for servile


/ (ˈsɜːvaɪl) /

  1. obsequious or fawning in attitude or behaviour; submissive

  2. of or suitable for a slave

  1. existing in or relating to a state of slavery

  2. (when postpositive, foll by to) submitting or obedient

Origin of servile

C14: from Latin servīlis, from servus slave

Derived forms of servile

  • servilely, adverb
  • servility (sɜːˈvɪlɪtɪ) or servileness, noun

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