Definition

slavish means excessively submissive or obedient, as if like a slave.

Pronunciation

US English

UK English

Part of speech

adjective.

Synonyms

servile, submissive, obedient, groveling, sycophantic, obsequious, deferential, compliant, unthinking, automatic, mechanical.

Antonyms

independent, self-reliant, assertive, rebellious, defiant, insubordinate, nonconformist, unconstrained, unbridled, uninhibited.

Example sentences

  • The employees of that particular company were expected to be slavish in their obedience to executives’ orders without questioning their decisions.
  • He had a slavish devotion to his boss and did every little thing he was told without question.
  • The company culture was one of slavish conformity, where employees were told to follow the rules blindly without questioning their purpose.
  • She resented the slavish obedience demanded by her parents and decided to break free from their oppressive rules.

Usage

The word ‘slavish’ is an adjective that is used to describe someone or something that is overly submissive or obedient, as if like a slave. It can be used in both a literal and metaphorical sense.

The word ‘slavish’ comes from the root word ‘slave’, which originally referred to a person who was owned by another person and forced to work for them. The suffix ‘-ish’ is added to ‘slave’ to form ‘slavish’. This suffix means ‘having the characteristics of’ or ‘resembling’. Therefore, ‘slavish’ means ‘resembling or having the characteristics of a slave’.

When used in a literal sense, ‘slavish’ describes someone who is forced to work for another person without any freedom or choice. This use of the word is more rare today but can still be found in certain contexts. For example, one might say that the enslaved people who were forced to work in the American South during the 19th century were slavish in their obedience to their masters’ orders.

In a more metaphorical sense, ‘slavish’ can be used to describe someone who is overly submissive and obedient to authority figures, even when such obedience is not required. For example, someone might be described as having a slavish devotion to a political leader, following their every word and action without question. Alternatively, a company culture could be described as slavish if employees are expected to follow every rule and regulation without questioning their purpose or relevance.

In summary, ‘slavish’ is an adjective that describes someone or something that is overly submissive or obedient, resembling the characteristics of a slave. It is often used in a metaphorical sense to describe people or situations where obedience and conformity are considered excessive or unnecessary