Subservient means "compliant," "obedient," "submissive," or having the qualities of a servant. Something that's subservient has been made useful, or put into the service of, something else.

Our word subservient is unusual because it actually comes from the Latin word of exactly the same spelling and almost the identical meaning — "subjecting to" or "complying with." Usually words change a little in spelling or meaning when they are adopted from another language, but this one did not. Maybe the word subservient seemed so subservient that it could comply with the rules of any language!

Definitions of subservient
  1. adjective
    compliant and obedient to authority
    “"editors and journalists who express opinions in print that are opposed to the interests of the rich are dismissed and replaced by subservient ones"-G. B. Shaw”
    subject or submissive to authority or the control of another
  2. adjective
    abjectly submissive; characteristic of a slave or servant
    synonyms: slavish, submissive
    submissive or fawning in attitude or behavior
  3. adjective
    serving or acting as a means or aid
    synonyms: implemental, instrumental
    providing assistance or serving a useful function
Word Family