• obsequious •
ahb-see-kwee-ês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Fawning, servile, sycophantic, devoted to fulfilling the wishes of another or others.
Notes: The most widespread noun accompanying today's word is obsequiousness. If this word is too long for you, you may use the much shorter but rarer obsequy [ahb-sÍ-kwee], which can also mean "a funeral" in the plural: to attend the obsequies of someone. We also have at our disposal obsequiosity, which exudes a hint of facetiousness.
In Play: Almost any type of servile behavior qualifies as obsequy: "That obsequious Ben Dover comes in early every day and sits in the boss's chair before the boss himself arrives to warm the seat for him." But nefarious motives are not always behind obsequiousness: "There is nothing like an obsequious little puppy to relax you after being barked at all day at work."
Word History: Did you ever wonder why obsequious people follow us around? Today we find out. This Good Word comes from Latin obsequiosus "obsequious, compliant" from obsequium "compliance", a noun based on the verb obsequi "to comply". This verb comprises the prefix ob- "to, against" + sequi "to follow". Sequi underlies the sequitur in the phrase non sequitur "illogical, not following". It also underlies many other words implying following such as sequence, consequent, and subsequent. The same root gave Latin its socius "sharing; associate, ally", which we enjoy in our borrowed words society and social. (Today's Good Word comes to us from a very unobsequious social ally in the Alpha Agora, Gail Rallens.)