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From Middle English obsequyous, from Latin obsequiōsus (complaisant, obsequious),[1] from obsequium (compliance), from obsequor (comply with, yield to), from ob (in the direction of, towards) + sequor (follow) (cf. sequel).


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /əbˈsiːkwi.əs/
  • (file)


obsequious (comparative more obsequious, superlative most obsequious)

  1. Excessively eager and attentive to please or to obey instructions; fawning, subservient, servile.
    Synonyms: fawning, ingratiating, servile, slavish, sycophantic, truckling, smarmy, asskissing; see also Thesaurus:sycophantic
    • 1912, Arthur Conan Doyle, “‘Those Were the Real Conquests’”, in The Lost World [], London, New York, N.Y.: Hodder and Stoughton, →OCLC, page 259:
      Personally I felt shy and uncomfortable at this obsequious adoration, and I read the same feeling in the faces of Lord John and Summerlee, but Challenger expanded like a flower in the sun.
    • 1927, Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, page 20:
      Translation falls especially short of this conceit which carries the whole flamboyance of the Spanish language. It was intended as an obsequious flattery of the Condesa, and was untrue.
    • 1930, Norman Lindsay, Redheap, Sydney, N.S.W.: Ure Smith, published 1965, →OCLC, page 118:
      [S]he complained pettishly of the heat and the flies and at length of the walk, and reduced Robert to the antics of an obsequious dog.
  2. (archaic) Obedient; compliant with someone else's orders or wishes.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:obedient
    • 1842, [anonymous collaborator of Letitia Elizabeth Landon], chapter XXXIV, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume II, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC, page 140:
      Our ladies were situated as well as it was possible; they had good servants, splendid rooms, obsequious attendants, and had become habituated to the country, so that the loss of the Count was not any thing of moment beyond the pleasure of his society; []
  3. (obsolete) Of or pertaining to obsequies, funereal.

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  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “obsequious”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.