9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[suh b-sur-vee-uh nt] /səbˈsɜr vi ənt/
serving or acting in a subordinate capacity; subordinate.
servile; excessively submissive; obsequious:
subservient persons; subservient conduct.
useful in promoting a purpose or end.
Origin of subservient
1625-35; < Latin subservient- (stem of subserviēns, present participle of subservīre to subserve), equivalent to sub- sub- + servi-, stem of servīre to serve + -ent -ent
Related forms
subservience, subserviency, noun
subserviently, adverb
unsubservient, adjective
unsubserviently, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for subservience
  • But the days of subservience to the descendants of long lines of nobility have long gone.
  • And in fact, some nominees had little or no personal integrity except their subservience to the powers that be.
  • Nevertheless, a proclivity for drink and a subservience to culture-mongering are symptomatic of their self-destructive bent.
  • Cook's radical vision was at variance with ideas of subservience that the state's white leaders offered.
  • The people expect positive reform out of us, not slavish subservience to special interests.
  • And they were caught up by the subservience of this musical mammoth to the baton's movements.
British Dictionary definitions for subservience


obsequious in behaviour or attitude
serving as a means to an end
a less common word for subordinate (sense 2)
Derived Forms
subserviently, adverb
subservience, subserviency, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin subserviēns complying with, from subservīre to subserve
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for subservience



1630s, "useful, serviceable," from Latin subservientem (nominative subserviens), present participle of subservire "assist, lend support," from sub "under" (see sub-) + servire "serve" (see serve). The meaning "slavishly obedient" is first recorded 1794.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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