showing an excessive willingness to serve or please others; submissive.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



submissive, obsequious, sycophantic, subservient, groveling, fawning, slavish, unctuous, ingratiating, deferential, truckling, meek, docile, compliant, tame, tractable, acquiescent, obedient.


assertive, independent, self-reliant, bold, confident, dominant, self-sufficient, sovereign, superior, commanding, unyielding, insubordinate, rebellious, defiant.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun servility, servilities
Verb None
Adjective servile
Adverb servilely

Example Sentences

  • The new recruit was always servile to his boss, doing anything he was asked without question or complaint.

  • The princess was disgusted by the servile behavior of the courtiers, who seemed more interested in pleasing her than in doing their jobs.

  • Despite his wealth and status, the landlord maintained a servile attitude towards his superiors and expected his tenants to do the same.

  • The comedian refused to cater to the audience’s servile demands for cheap laughs, instead standing by his principles and refusing to compromise his act.


The word ‘servile’ is used to describe someone who shows excessive willingness to serve or please others, often to the point of being submissive. The word is derived from the Latin word ‘servilis’, which means ‘of a slave’ or ‘servant’. The ‘serv-’ root of the word, meaning ’to serve’, is also found in related words such as ‘service’ and ‘servitude’.

The word ‘servile’ may be used as an adjective to describe a person’s behavior, attitude, or appearance. For example, a person who constantly seeks approval and always agrees with others’ opinions might be described as servile. Similarly, an employee who is deferential to their boss and never questions their decisions could be seen as servile.

The word ‘servile’ can also be used in a figurative sense to describe a situation or system that is excessively subservient or oppressive. For example, a government that restricts free speech and infringes on human rights might be characterized as having a servile system. Alternatively, a school where students are expected to memorize information without questioning or critical thinking might be described as fostering a servile mentality among students.

There are several variations of the word ‘servile’, including the adverb ‘servilely’, which describes an action or behavior performed in a servile manner. The noun ‘servility’ refers to the quality or state of being servile. Additionally, the prefix ‘sub-’ can be added to the word to create ‘subservient’, which has a similar meaning to ‘servile’ but emphasizes more strongly the idea of being in a subordinate position or role.

Overall, the word ‘servile’ is useful for describing situations where someone is overly deferential or submissive, or where a system appears to be oppressive or excessively subservient to authorities. Its Latin root and related variations make the word a valuable addition to any vocabulary.