Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To behave in a servile or demeaning manner; cringe.
  • intransitive v. To lie or creep in a prostrate position, as in subservience or humility.
  • intransitive v. To give oneself over to base pleasures: "Have we not groveled here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?” ( Walt Whitman).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To be prone on the ground.
  • v. To crawl
  • v. To abase oneself before another person.
  • v. To be nice to someone or apologize in the hope of securing something.
  • v. To take pleasure in mundane activities.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To creep on the earth, or with the face to the ground; to lie prone, or move uneasily with the body prostrate on the earth; to lie flat on one's belly, expressive of abjectness; to crawl.
  • intransitive v. To tend toward, or delight in, what is sensual or base; to be low, abject, or mean.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To creep or crawl on the earth, or with the face and body bent to the ground; lie prone, or move with the body prostrate on the earth; especially, to lie prostrate in abject humility, fear, etc.
  • Hence To have a tendency toward or take pleasure in low or base things; be low, abject, or mean; be morally depraved.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. show submission or fear

Etymologies

Back-formation from obsolete groveling, prone, face downward, from Middle English : (on) grufe, face downwards (from Old Norse ā grūfu, from grūfa, to grovel) + -ling, adv. suff.; see -ling2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old Norse á grufu ("on one's belly") ( > Old Norse grúfa ("to grovel")). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • If the rulers of other countries want to grovel, that is their privilege, but I don't want my country groveling before anyone.

    Propeller Most Popular Stories

  • The fact is he doesn't have to 'grovel' to anyone.

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 @ 6: 26 p.m. Hmmm, I haven't seen Not-Green-Eyed-Guy since he contacted me to "grovel".

    madrigle Diary Entry

  • Jeffries was ubiquitous; he led the "grovel" (as the scrum was called at Fernhurst), and kept it together.

    The Loom of Youth

  • It is pretty hard to hold a "grovel" several stones heavier for over an hour, and this year even Armour was a little doubtful about the lightness of his side.

    The Loom of Youth

  • The same threat would apply to ambassadors from other nations that treat Israel similarly, he added - echoing the attitude of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has instructed Israeli diplomats not to "grovel" before their host countries.

    The Seattle Times

  • The same threat would apply to ambassadors from other nations that treat Israel similarly, he added -- echoing the attitude of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has instructed Israeli diplomats not to "grovel" before their host countries.

    TODAY'S ZAMAN :: News

  • Sammy's comments are a distant echo of the famous statement made by England captain Tony Greig in 1976, who claimed he wanted England to make the West Indies "grovel" during their Test series that summer.

    Cricket365

  • It didn't help matters much that Greig was a white South Africa - born player, which meant that many in the West Indies team believed Greig's use of the word 'grovel' 'was deliberate, the great Viv Richards, on his first tour of England, saying at the time that' this was the greatest motivating speech the England captain could have given to any West Indian team. ''

    TrinidadExpress Today's News

  • England captain Tony Greig's remarks about making the West Indians "grovel" spring to mind, while, closer to home, Mickey Arthur's remarks in February 2006, when he claimed to have a

    IOL: News

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Comments

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  • Back-formation from grovelling.

    July 2, 2010

  • In ornithological days, at the observatory, we used, not infrequently, to discover moribund specimends. They seemed always to have grovelled into some niche to quietly get on with it...

    - Peter Reading, C, 1984

    July 4, 2008