Subservient refers to someone who is willing to obey or submit to someone else’s will or authority without question, often in a passive or servile manner.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



obedient, compliant, docile, meek, submissive, servile, tractable, deferential, acquiescent, obsequious, yielding.


Assertive, commanding, dominant, independent, insubordinate, rebellious, self-reliant, strong-willed, stubborn, unyielding.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun subservience, subservientness, subserviences, subservientnesses
Verb subserve, subserving, subserved, subserves
Adjective subservient
Adverb subserviently

Example Sentences

  • Her subservient attitude towards her boss was starting to get on the nerves of her colleagues.

  • The country’s government appeared to be nothing more than subservient puppets to larger, more powerful nations.

  • The teacher demanded subservient behavior from her students, which caused them all to resent her.

  • The character in the novel was portrayed as a subservient housewife who was solely focused on serving her husband’s needs.


The word subservient has a negative connotation and is often used to describe a person or thing that is willing to submit to someone or something else in a way that is seen as passive or servile. The prefix “sub-” means beneath, indicating that the subservient person or thing is lower in status or importance than the one to whom they are submitting. The root word “serve” emphasizes the idea of obedience and submission.

There are several variations of the word subservient that are commonly used to convey similar meanings but with slightly different connotations. For example, the word “obsequious” is often used to describe someone who is overly eager to please and goes beyond what is expected or necessary to gain favor from someone in a position of power. This word has a more negative connotation than subservient and implies a sense of insincerity or fawning behavior.

Another related word is “deferential,” which is often used in a more positive context to describe someone who shows polite respect or consideration for someone in a position of authority. This word implies a sense of genuine respect rather than blind obedience, and is often used to describe behavior that is appropriate or expected in a professional or formal setting.

In general, the word subservient is most commonly used to describe behavior that is seen as negative or undesirable, particularly when it involves a power dynamic in which one person or group is expected to submit to another. In many cases, the word may be used to suggest that the subservient person or group is being taken advantage of or exploited in some way by the more powerful entity.