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  • Adj.




Igor’s endless bowing, sickly smiles, and other obsequious ways of behaving towards the master of the house annoyed other servants. They all knew that Igor was merely trying to win favor by behaving with such overly dutiful, too respectful, and obsequious motions. Igor rushed upstairs at dawn to make sure that his employer’s coffee was as hot as he wished, and he also hung upon every request with obsequious, flattering, and simply excessively detailed attention.

Quiz: When is someone acting in an obsequious way?

  • When that person focuses on his or her own advancement.
  • When that person works in a position of service.
  • When that person tries overly hard to please another.

Memory Hook

Suspicious Observing of Glorious Equality Despite the fact that the poor man's son was clearly a genius compared to the rich man's stupid son, the poor man kept observing that the rich man's son's intelligence was as glorious as his own son's; this suspicious observing of glorious equality was nothing but obsequious because the poor man needed the rich man's money.


  • History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants. — Alexander Hamilton, American Founding Father and legal scholar, from _The Federalist No. 1,_ [27 October 1787] Alexander hamilton, american founding father and legal scholar, from _the federalist no
  • Dogs are dependent on us to the point of being obsequious, but cats seem to be constantly reevaluating the merits of our relationship, as well as their role in domestic life. —The New Yorker
  • Eager to redeem themselves for the generally obsequious reporting about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda, journalists don’t want to get fooled again as the administration lays the groundwork for a possible war against Iran. —Los Angeles Times
  • I had staked all on Gussie making a favorable impression on his hostess, basing my confidence on the fact that he was one of those timid, obsequious, teacup-passing, thin-bread-and-butter-offering, yes-men whom women of my Aunt Dahlia's type nearly always like at first sight. —P.G. Wodehouse, English author and humorist, from _Right Ho, Jeeves_

Word Ingredients

ob- to, towards
sequ follow
-ious of the nature of

When one is acting in an obsequious fashion, one “follows towards” another in a way pleasing to the other person, often by falsely flattering him.

Word Constellation