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[suh b-mis-iv] /səbˈmɪs ɪv/
inclined or ready to submit or yield to the authority of another; unresistingly or humbly obedient:
submissive servants.
marked by or indicating submission or an instance of yielding to the authority of another:
a submissive reply.
Origin of submissive
1580-90; submiss + -ive
Related forms
submissively, adverb
submissiveness, noun
nonsubmissive, adjective
nonsubmissively, adverb
nonsubmissiveness, noun
quasi-submissive, adjective
quasi-submissively, adverb
unsubmissive, adjective
unsubmissively, adverb
unsubmissiveness, noun
1. tractable, compliant, pliant, amenable. 2. passive, resigned, patient, docile, tame, subdued.
1. rebellious, disobedient. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for submissive
  • The older dog was adopted when he was full grown and had been abused, and he's submissive.
  • She broke into submissive tears and gave way at once.
  • The one whose periods change is she submissive or dominant.
  • Will the submissive become leader or dominant become leader.
  • The goal is to make her a submissive working elephant.
  • Hierarchical in all things, hyena etiquette usually requires the submissive animal to initiate the greeting.
  • Now, a dog's low self-esteem could be misinterpreted as calm-submissive energy, but it's not the same thing.
  • The key is changing the energies of both animals to calm-submissive.
  • Usually in response to that submissive behavior, the aggressor will reach out and gently pat or embrace or kiss.
  • She tends to act submissive initially around some people and barks when she is around others.
British Dictionary definitions for submissive


of, tending towards, or indicating submission, humility, or servility
Derived Forms
submissively, adverb
submissiveness, noun
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 submissive

1580s, "inclined to submit," from Latin submiss-, past participle stem of submittere (see submission) + -ive. Masochistic sexual sense is attested by 1969. As a noun in this sense, by 1985. Related: Submissively; submissiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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