Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Dictionaries Word of the Day: OBSEQUIOUS


Compliant in a servile way.

In the fifteenth century, when the word was first current, 'obsequious' meant merely 'readily compliant', without the association of servility that it acquired a hundred years later. This is the sense in Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor (1598), when Falstaff says to Mistress Ford: 'I see you are obsequious in your love', and similarly in Milton's Paradis Lost (1667):

Light issues forth, and at the other dore
Obsequious darkness enters.

This usage was virtually obsolete by the end of the nineteenth century.

from Dunces, Gourmands & Petticoats: 1,300 Words Whose Meanings Have Changed Through the Ages by Adrian Room

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