bow and scrape

Idioms & Phrases

bow and scrape

Behave obsequiously or too deferentially, as in In this fashionable store, the salespersons virtually bow and scrape before customers. This term alludes to the old-fashioned custom of bowing so deeply that one's foot draws back and scrapes the ground. A cliché for a century or more, it may be dying out. [Mid-1600s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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