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Community Comment

A Word A Day — servile

August 30, 2012

Word of the Day

  • servile
  • audio pronunciation
  • \SER-vul\


: of or befitting a slave or a menial position
: meanly or cravenly submissive : abject

Maura was embarrassed at the way her mother demanded servile behavior from store employees.

“In a communique read from atop of the small truck, they criticised the national unions for placing too little importance on health concerns and being servile to the factory owners.” — From an article by Steve Scherer on, August 2, 2012


Latin served us “servile” with the help of “servilis,” itself from “servus,” the Latin word for “slave.” “Servus” is also an ancestor of “serve,” “service,” and “servitude.” Synonyms of “servile” in English include “subservient,” “slavish,” and “obsequious.” “Subservient” implies the cringing manner of one very conscious of a subordinate position.” “Slavish” suggests abject or debased servitude. “Obsequious” implies fawning or sycophantic compliance and exaggerated deference of manner. “Servile” suggests the mean or fawning behavior of a slave.


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