Adjective > Obsequious

Adjective – Obsequious

This word comes straight from a Latin one meaning the same thing: “compliant, or obedient,” or more literally, “following after.”

Obsequious people and things have or show a habit of following orders in a way that’s slave-like, servant-like, or too eager.

Part of speech:
Adjective: “his obsequious tone,” “that look on her face is so obsequious.”

Other forms worth knowing:
The adverb is “obsequiously.”

For the noun, the most common choice is “obsequiousness.” But you can also pick “obsequity,” “obsequience,” “obsequiosity,” or even “obsequy,” which in the plural (“obsequies“) means “things people do or say that show a servant-like eagerness to follow orders.

How to use it:
This formal, serious, harshly negative word calls to mind the image of a servant following after his master, step by step, from room to room. It’s an image that’s much easier to stomach than those suggested by similar words, like “boot-licking” and “brown-nosing.”

Talk about obsequious people and the obsequious things they do and say: “this obsequious hostess,” “his obsequious service,” “their obsequious attentions.”

Or, talk about obsequious tones, manners, attitudes, facial expressions, body language, descriptions, biographies, etc.

“During her own wedding, Kneissl kneeled in front of the Russian president—for many a symbol of Austria’s obsequious relationship with the Kremlin.”
— Franz-Stefan Gady, Slate, 21 May 2019

“1. Join the Drama Club
2. Do Your Research
3. Provide Something She Needs …
7. Be More Attractive
8. Be Complimentary, But Not Obsequious.”

— T. M. Franklin, How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You , 2014