Groveling refers to showing excessive humility or submission, often by begging or pleading for mercy, forgiveness or attention in a degrading manner.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech

adjective (it describes someone or something that is showing excessive humility or submission)


fawning, cringing, kowtowing, begging, pleading, prostrating, submissively, obsequious, sycophantic, bootlicking.


Assertive, confident, independent, self-respecting, self-assertive, self-confident, self-reliant, dignified, proud, respectful.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun grovelers, grovellers, groveler, groveller
Verb grovels, grovel, grovelling, grovelled
Adjective groveling
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • The employee was groveling for his boss’s forgiveness after making a costly mistake.

  • She was tired of his groveling and constant need for validation.

  • The politician was criticized for his groveling and sycophantic behavior toward wealthy donors.

  • The dog was groveling at his owner’s feet, begging for attention and treats.


The word groveling is often used to describe a person who is obsequious, submissive, and excessively humble, often to the point of degradation. It can be used derogatively to describe someone who is seen as lacking self-respect, dignity or assertiveness.

The word groveling is derived from the verb “grovel”, which means to lie or kneel on the ground with one’s face down in respect or submission. The -ing suffix is added to the end of the verb to form the adjective “groveling”, which describes the act of groveling or a person who is engaging in such behavior.

In some contexts, the word “groveling” might be seen as a positive trait, particularly in the context of showing respect to authority figures or as an act of self-deprecation to avoid coming across as arrogant or overly confident. However, this can be a double-edged sword, as excessive groveling can also be seen as weak, unassertive or insincere.

The derogatory connotation of groveling is often used in the context of power dynamics, such as in the case of an employer who expects their employees to grovel to them in order to maintain their jobs or gain promotions. Similarly, in personal relationships, a partner who is overly groveling might be seen as submissive or dependent.

Other variations of the word groveling include “groveler,” “grovelled,” and “grovelingness.” These words are used interchangeably to describe the act or trait of being obsequious or submissive.