Definition of grovel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɡrɒv(ə)l/
Pronunciation: /ˈɡrʌv(ə)l/

verb (grovels, grovelling, grovelled; US grovels, groveling, groveled)

[no object]
1Lie or crawl abjectly on the ground with one’s face downwards: he grovelled at George’s feet
More example sentences
  • This requires flexibility and upper-body strength, neither of which I had, and it was generally humiliating, especially when we had to grovel on the ground doing ‘power moves’.
  • He gasped as he saw her, and fell to the ground, groveling at her feet, pleading with her.
  • There was no strength left for crawling or grovelling, let alone swimming.
crawl, creep, cringe, crouch, prostrate oneself, kneel, fall on one's knees;
throw oneself at someone's feet
1.1Act obsequiously in order to obtain forgiveness or favour: they criticized leaders who grovelled to foreign patrons (as adjective grovelling) his grovelling references to ‘great’ historians
More example sentences
  • Other ordinaries say they will respond only on the basis of individual need; thus, if such a resigned priest languishes in abject poverty or grovels fittingly, he may receive some reluctant beneficence.
  • In a sickening display of abject groveling he declared: ‘My behavior on this occasion was unacceptable and irresponsible.’
  • Each year at harvest, the prince hosts a feast for the noblemen of the countryside, while the peasants who farm his land grovel in abject poverty.
behave obsequiously, be obsequious, be servile, be sycophantic, fawn, kowtow, bow and scrape, toady, truckle, abase oneself, humble oneself, prostrate oneself;
curry favour with, flatter, court, woo, dance attendance on, make up to, play up to, ingratiate oneself with
informal crawl, creep, suck up, butter up, be all over, fall all over, lick someone's boots, rub up the right way
archaic blandish



Example sentences
  • But while most of the defendants there were grovellers and bootlickers, he was not.
  • He is beginning to look like a recidivist groveler who should not be allowed any nearer the Oval Office than the public tour.
  • Since then he has become a serial apologizer and accomplished groveler.


Example sentences
  • The new TV advert grovellingly asks us to ‘return to using rail’.
  • The same speaker grovellingly agreed that guests of an Australian parliamentarian should be removed from the public gallery.
  • He was forced to grovellingly apologise.


Middle English: back-formation from the obsolete adverb grovelling, from obsolete groof, grufe 'the face or front' (in the phrase on grufe, from Old Norse á grúfu 'face downwards') + the suffix -ling.

Words that rhyme with grovel

hovel, novel

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: grovel

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