Definition of grovel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɡrävəl/

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

[no object]
1Lie or move abjectly on the ground with one’s face downward: she was groveling on the floor in fear
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.
prostrate oneself, lie, kneel, cringe
1.1Act in an obsequious manner in order to obtain someone’s forgiveness or favor: everyone expected me to grovel with gratitude (as adjective groveling) his groveling references to “great” historians and their “brilliant” works
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.
be obsequious to, fawn on, kowtow to, bow and scrape to, toady to, truckle to, abase oneself to, humble oneself to;
curry favor with, flatter, dance attendance on, make up to, play up to, ingratiate oneself with
informal crawl to, suck up to, lick someone's boots



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 downward') + the suffix -ling.

Words that rhyme with grovel

hovel, novel

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: grov·el

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