Word of the Day: Obsequious

Good evening and welcome to Word of the Day! A journey through the English vocabulary and the words that piqued my interest, in WotD we'll be learning a new word for each working day of the week, bar holidays, unless there's a holiday special...

Today's word is:

obsequious

|əbˈsēkwēəs|

adjective

  • Obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree: they were served by obsequious waiters.

ORIGIN: late 15th cent. (not depreciatory in sense in early use): from Latin obsequiosus, from obsequium 'compliance,' from obsequi 'follow, comply with.'

THE RIGHT WORD

If you want to get ahead with your boss, you might trying being obsequious, which suggests an attitude of inferiority that may or may not be genuine, but that is assumed in order to placate a superior in hopes of getting what one wants (: a "goody two shoes" whose obsequious behavior made everyone in the class cringe).

While subservient may connote similar behavior, it is more often applied to those who are genuinely subordinate or dependent and act accordingly (: a timid, subservient child who was terrified of making a mistake).

Servile is a stronger and more negative term, suggesting a cringing submissiveness (: the dog's servile obedience to her master).

Slavish, suggesting the status or attitude of a slave, is often used to describe strict adherence to a set of rules or a code of conduct (: a slavish adherence to the rules of etiquette).