verb (used without object), grov·eled, grov·el·ing or (especially British) grov·elled, grov·el·ling.
- to humble oneself or act in an abject manner, as in great fear or utter servility.
- to lie or crawl with the face downward and the body prostrate, especially in abject humility, fear, etc.
- to take pleasure in mean or base things.
verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled (intr)
- to humble or abase oneself, as in making apologies or showing respect
- to lie or crawl face downwards, as in fear or humility
- (often foll by in) to indulge or take pleasure (in sensuality or vice)
1590s, Shakespearian back-formation of groveling (Middle English), regarded as a present participle but really an adverb, from Old Norse grufe “prone” + obsolete adverbial suffix -ling (which survives also as the -long in headlong, sidelong); first element from Old Norse a grufu “on proneness.” Perhaps related to creep. Related: Groveled; grovelled; groveling; grovelling.