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

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.


  • Of course there’s a level of instant gratification in fast cars, mistresses, and obsequious servants — but such hollow pleasures usually give way either to ennui and madness, or to the wisdom to pursue life’s true satisfactions. —Newsvine
  • 'Nothing is more troubling to me than the obsequious press during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq,' she tells us, citing pulled punches at news conferences. —The Washington Post
  • Waiting tables is a particular skill, a good waiter is neither obsequious nor obnoxious, he or she makes you feel welcome and taken care of while you are in his or her care. —Newsvine
  • Calling a politician 'sir' may be seen as old-fashioned good manners, but when obsequiousness gets in the way of asking hard questions, democracy suffers. —BNET

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