A Word A Day : Obsequious

Wednesday, 23rd January 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Adjective )

Pronunciation : ab-sekwee-ess, ob-sekwee-ess

1. attempting to win favor from influential people by flattery

2. attentive in an ingratiating or servile manner

3. excessively eager to please or obey


15th century - Latin obsequiosus - obsequium - compliance


c.1450, prompt to serve from Latin obsequiosus meaning compliant, obedient from obsequium : compliance, dutiful service from obsequi : to accommodate oneself to the will of another from ob after + sequi follow . Pejorative sense of fawning, sycophantic had emerged by 1599 (implied obsequiously).


servile, sycophantic, flattering, toadying, submissive, fawning, compliant, deferential, reverential, groveling, unctuous, smarmy


Complacent means pleased or satisfied with how things are, with how they affect one's self, self-satisfied, smug. Complaisant means attempting or eager to please or satisfy, obliging, affable. Complacent thus refers to a state of mind and complaisant to a disposition to behave or conduct oneself in a way that pleases or satisfies others

Deferential means showing courteous expression of regard or respect. Difference is the quality of being unlike or dissimilar. Differential means relating to or showing a difference or the quality of the difference between similar things.


disobedient, disrespectful, inconsiderate, noncompliant, rude,assertive

Contextual Examples:

• Ann's assistant was so obsequious that she could never tell what he really thought about anything.

• My obsequious friend seemed to live only to make me happy and never wanted to do anything if I said I didn't want to do it.

• History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people: commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.

Related Words:

obsequiously : Adverb

obsequiousness : Noun

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