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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mahmuds voice was low, submissive; but through the drooping lids a gleam shone forth that never came from sunlight or from sea.

    Cursed George Allan England
  • There was something about her eyes not unlike the dog's expression, submissive, but questioning.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • Miss Hildegard looked rebellious for an instant, but accepted the verdict of superior wisdom with submissive silence.

  • The officers then could not abide him, though some were submissive to him because of his father's position.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • This irony gave him a sense of being still outside his emotions and not a submissive part of them.

    Erik Dorn Ben Hecht
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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