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Submissive vs Subservient - What's the difference?

submissive | subservient |

As adjectives the difference between submissive and subservient

is that submissive is meekly obedient or passive while subservient is useful in an inferior capacity.

As a noun submissive

is one who submits.




(en noun)
  • one who submits
  • Adjective

    (en adjective)
  • Meekly obedient or passive.
  • * 1756 , Edmund Burke, The Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke , G. Bell & sons, page 314:
  • The powerful managers for government were not sufficiently submissive to the pleasure of the possessors of immediate and personal favour, sometimes from a confidence in their own strength natural and acquired; sometimes from a fear of offending their friends, and weakening that lead in the country, which gave them a consideration independent of the court.
  • * 1913 , Edward Lee Thorndike, Educational Psychology , Teachers college, Columbia university, page 92:
  • If the human being who answers these tendencies assumes a submissive behavior, in essence a lowering of head and shoulders, wavering glance, absence of all preparations for attack, general weakening of muscle tonus, and hesitancy in movement, the movements of attempt at mastery become modified into attempts at the more obvious swagger, strut and glare of triumph.
  • * 2007 , Brian Watermeyer, Disability and Social Change: A South African Agenda , HSRC Press, page 269:
  • Once oppression has been internalised, little force is needed to keep us submissive .

    Derived terms

    * submissively (adverb) * submissiveness (noun)


    * docile * meek * slavish * timid * obedient


    * dominant, domineering (ruling ) * defiant, rebellious (ignoring )




    (en adjective)
  • Useful in an inferior capacity.
  • Obsequiously submissive.
  • See also

    * obedient * subordinate ----