verb (used without object), grov·eled, grov·el·ing or (especially British) grov·elled, grov·el·ling.

  1. to humble oneself or act in an abject manner, as in great fear or utter servility.
  2. to lie or crawl with the face downward and the body prostrate, especially in abject humility, fear, etc.
  3. to take pleasure in mean or base things.

verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled (intr)

  1. to humble or abase oneself, as in making apologies or showing respect
  2. to lie or crawl face downwards, as in fear or humility
  3. (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.

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