Definition of obsequious in US English:



  • Obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree.

    ‘they were served by obsequious waiters’
    • ‘In fact, the figure lounging in front of me seems in some respects more human than fox, effortlessly graceful, endearing without being obsequious, and persistently humorous.’
    • ‘Paris himself turns out to be an obsequious toady in Domitian's heady presence.’
    • ‘He was obedient to his Christchurch bosses, but not at all obsequious.’
    • ‘Her insatiable desire to be stroked, bolstered, flattered, was met by Burrell with the obsequious enthusiasm of a knight offering the chasteness of courtly love.’
    • ‘We Catholics need to possess greater wisdom than to merely fall for somebody who is obsequious, nice, polite and reasonable.’
    • ‘Thus approached, I would smile benignly and direct the appropriately obsequious customer toward the objects of his desiring.’
    • ‘Randy is Mr. Lahey's obsequious sidekick, lover and Sunnyvale's assistant trailer park supervisor.’
    • ‘They've filled their almost-claustrophobic room with towering flower bouquets and perhaps a few too many obsequious waiters.’
    • ‘Everyone was desperately failing to be cool about the presence of this A list Hollywood actor, but the first few questions were obsequious and embarrassing.’
    • ‘Woodward's obsequious style minimised the impact.’
    • ‘My ghostly waiter was preferable to the obsequious, hovering variety which pop up like pantomime villains to ask if everything is all right just as you are about to start chewing.’
    • ‘The award will be given annually to the journo who produces the greatest volume of obsequious offal about a sports ‘hero’.’
    • ‘They are curiously obsequious, seeming to promise presidents and prime ministers a favourable verdict in return for a few invitations, a few decorations.’
    • ‘They're surrounded by heavy linen, sparkling crystal, gleaming silver, obsequious waiters, and an embarrassment of champagne glasses.’
    • ‘Like spoiled children, they can demand, stamp their feet, refuse to vote, be fickle and whimsical, expecting MPs to act as obsequious valets, while distrusting them all along.’
    • ‘The person he hires will be insipid and obsequious.’
    • ‘Diamond has a gentle, self-effacing style about him without seeming obsequious.’
    • ‘He cuddled up to his colleagues, begging for approval - he was obsequious, smart, slippery.’
    • ‘Submission here means to be subsequent or responsive, not necessarily obsequious or subservient.’
    • ‘As is always the case in France, I am not sure if she reads my apology as sufficiently humble or merely obsequious.’
    servile, ingratiating, unctuous, sycophantic, fawning, toadying, oily, oleaginous, greasy, grovelling, cringing, toadyish, sycophantish, subservient, submissive, slavish, abject, uriah heepish
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Late 15th century (not depreciatory in sense in early use): from Latin obsequiosus, from obsequium ‘compliancy’, from obsequi ‘follow, comply with’.