Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Subordinate in capacity or function.
  • adjective Obsequious; servile.
  • adjective Useful as a means or an instrument; serving to promote an end.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Useful as an instrument or means to promote an end or purpose; serviceable; being of service.
  • Acting as a subordinate instrument; fitted or disposed to serve in an inferior capacity; subordinate; hence, of persons and conduct, truckling; obsequious.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Fitted or disposed to subserve; useful in an inferior capacity; serving to promote some end; subordinate; hence, servile, truckling.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Useful in an inferior capacity.
  • adjective Obsequiously submissive.

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

  • adjective abjectly submissive; characteristic of a slave or servant
  • adjective serving or acting as a means or aid
  • adjective compliant and obedient to authority

Etymologies

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

[Latin subserviēns, subservient-, present participle of subservīre, to subserve; see subserve.]

Examples

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