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[uh b-see-kwee-uh s] /əbˈsi kwi əs/
characterized by or showing servile complaisance or deference; fawning:
an obsequious bow.
servilely compliant or deferential:
obsequious servants.
obedient; dutiful.
Origin of obsequious
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English < Latin obsequiōsus, equivalent to obsequi(um) compliance (obsequ(ī) to comply with (ob- ob- + sequī to follow) + -ium -ium) + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
obsequiously, adverb
obsequiousness, noun
overobsequious, adjective
overobsequiously, adverb
overobsequiousness, noun
unobsequious, adjective
unobsequiously, adverb
unobsequiousness, noun
Can be confused
obsequies, obsequious.
1. sycophantic, flattering. 2. cringing, submissive. See servile. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for obsequious
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Five strangers appeared—tall, imposing men, with bouquets of flowers in their hands, and followed by obsequious attendants.

    Hernando Cortez John S. C. Abbott
  • "The same, Sir, at your service," replied the obsequious valet.

    Gomez Arias Joaqun Telesforo de Trueba y Coso
  • Jesse was considerably more than middling drunk when, his brandy having receded to the lees, he summoned the obsequious Gaskins.

    The Eddy Clarence L. Cullen
  • Who knows, thought I, but I owe all this obsequious deference to my horse?

  • The favourites of Apollo did not fail to offer up their obsequious incense to the god of the day.

  • It took a Tudor will to do the deed, and it took an obsequious Tudor age to accept it.

    Clare Avery Emily Sarah Holt
  • There was an air of obsequious insolence about the old Jew that was very offensive.

  • Finally, he stopped and stood before the obsequious Basilivitch.

    Rabbi and Priest Milton Goldsmith
British Dictionary definitions for obsequious


obedient or attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner
(rare) submissive or compliant
Derived Forms
obsequiously, adverb
obsequiousness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin obsequiōsus compliant, from obsequium compliance, from obsequi to follow, from ob- to + sequi to follow
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 obsequious

late 15c., "prompt to serve," from Middle French obséquieux (15c.), from Latin obsequiosus "compliant, obedient," from obsequium "compliance, dutiful service," from obsequi "to accommodate oneself to the will of another," from ob "after" (see ob-) + sequi "to follow" (see sequel). Pejorative sense of "fawning, sycophantic" had emerged by 1590s. Related: Obsequiously; obsequiousness (mid-15c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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