Advanced and Proficiency Vocabulary for Exams(e.g.GRE, Banks, Civil Services, SAT / LSAT). For IELTS/TOEFL, and everyday spoken vocabulary, go to our Spoken Vocabulary Database.
In a literal sense, to ‘grovel’ means to lie face down on the floor in an act of subservience, as in the past people would have done in the presence of a king, for example. It has since been adapted to figuratively express being overly deferential towards somebody, particularly somebody in authority, due to fear or in order to win favour. It is always used in a disapproving manner.
My bank manager gave the impression that she wanted me to grovel in order to get the loan I needed. That’s why I stormed out of her office.
Alex didn’t care that he had offended me at first, but when he found out that he could be fired for it, he issued a grovelling apology.
Your grovelling attitude towards the boss is what makes you unpopular. Your co-workers look down on you for it.