Definitions

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

  • adj. Full of or exhibiting servile compliance; fawning.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Obedient, compliant with someone else's orders or wishes.
  • adj. Excessively eager to please or to obey all instructions; fawning, subservient.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to obsequies, funereal.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Promptly obedient, or submissive, to the will of another; compliant; yielding to the desires of another; devoted.
  • adj. Servilely or meanly attentive; compliant to excess; cringing; fawning.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to obsequies; funereal.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Promptly obedient or submissive to the will of another; ever ready to obey, serve, or assist; compliant; dutiful.
  • Hence Servilely complaisant; showing a mean readiness to fall in with the will of another; cringing; fawning; sycophantic.
  • Synonyms Servile, slavish, sycophantic. See obedience.
  • Funereal; pertaining to funeral rites.
  • Absorbed in grief, as a mourner at a funeral.

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

  • adj. attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner
  • adj. attempting to win favor from influential people by flattery

Etymologies

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

Middle English, from Latin obsequiōsus, from obsequium, compliance, from obsequī, to comply : ob-, to; see ob- + sequī, to follow; see sekw-1 in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin obsequiōsus ("complaisant, obsequious"), from obsequium ("compliance"), from obsequor ("comply with, yield to"), from ob ("in the direction of, towards") + sequor ("follow") (see sequel).

Examples

  • In addition, there's a new book about Shyamalan, The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale and the making of this film, which is apparently an exercise in obsequious flattery.

    Actions Speaking Loudly as Words

  • The waiters at the club were all white-jacketed middle-aged black men who could not be called obsequious but belonged culturally to another generation, one that knew how to be selectively deaf and to pretend that the clientele they served held them in high regard.

    The Glass Rainbow

  • I dare say you know two types of natives, which may be called the obsequious and the sullen?

    The Ebb-Tide

  • I try to tread a not-middle line between following the pure dictates of cold logic which would involve going to the gym as well as not being in any political party and the kind of obsequious loyalty and jam-tomorrow logic you see in members of the other two parties.

    What did Evan Harris actually say?

  • That kind of obsequious attitude plus Gordon Brown's 'light touch regulation' were taken by the 'spiv' element in the City as the signal that anything goes.

    John Rentoul today puts Trevor Kavanagh and myself in the...

  • I am impressed, you appear to have used the word "obsequious" properly even if what you were saying was false.

    "He's a serial exaggerator. If I was being unkind I would say he's a liar, but it's a habit he ought to drop."

  • After the kind of obsequious, sycophantic verbal fellatio that has been given some of the other candidates, who have said far stupider things, it would be more helpful to wipe the slate clean and just have a new set of interviewers, if we want to seriously rate political candidates.

    Sarah Palin will be answering questions later.

  • Among others we find a contemporary Tiziano Vecelli, who is a lawyer of note concerned in the administration of Cadore, keeping up a kind of obsequious friendship with his famous cousin at Venice.

    The Earlier Work of Titian

  • OK: we're all familiar at this point with the sickeningly prissy, obsequious, condescending tone of the now-infamous column by the Toronto Star's "public editor," Kathy English.

    Archive 2009-07-01

  • The more I thought about my upsell experience and those of my friends, the more anachronistic such tactics seemed — a throwback to the bad old days when sommeliers regularly terrified obsequious diners, taking advantage of their ignorance and fear.

    The Outrage of the Upsell

Comments

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  • 007 used this word when he was talking to Sir Godfrey when they were at Zorin's estate.

    June 5, 2012

  • Isn't this from the Latin preposition, ob, meaning in front of, and the infinitive, sequere, meaning to follow?

    August 9, 2008