AskDefine | Define submissive

Dictionary Definition

submissive adj
1 inclined or willing to submit to orders or wishes of others or showing such inclination; "submissive servants"; "a submissive reply"; "replacing troublemakers with more submissive people" [ant: domineering]
2 willing to submit without resistance to authority; deferent
3 abjectly submissive; characteristic of a slave or servant; "slavish devotion to her job ruled her life"; "a slavish yes-man to the party bosses"- S.H.Adams; "she has become submissive and subservient" [syn: slavish, subservient]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (UK) IPA:/sʌbmɪsɪv/
  • (US) IPA:/səbmɪsɪv/


  1. one who submits


  1. 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.


Meekly obedient or passive

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Submissiveness is the incidence or trait of yielding to the expressed will of another person or some display of force. It can be found in everyday human interaction. Submissiveness can be a benign aspect of the social fabric, or it may be part of other problems that a person experiences.
Within human relationships there may be a submissive partner. This partner may be trying to appease the other(s) through agreeing to their command. If they are otherwise healthy this partner may be content. If one or both of the people are experiencing chronic, pervasive emotional distress then the relationship or individuals may require reevaluation.
People who are eager and willing to take on a recurring submissive role in a relationship or who fetishize the trait of submissiveness may seek out others that share their interest or form long term pairings based on consenting to heightened levels of submission in a relationship. This may be incidental in certain cultural or social groups, or may be explicitly expressed in others such as the BDSM subculture (particularly Pup-play), or the Taken in hand subculture.
submissive in German: Devot

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abject, abused, accepting, accommodating, accordant, acquiescent, acquiescing, adaptable, adapting, adaptive, adjustable, adjusting, affirmative, agreeable, agreed, agreeing, amenable, approving, ass-kissing, assentatious, assenting, base, bendable, bending, biddable, bow, bring, browbeaten, brown-nosing, capitulate, cave, complaisant, compliable, compliant, complying, conceding, concessive, conformable, conforming, consentient, consenting, content, defer, deferential, deliver, devoted, docile, domestic, domesticated, downtrod, downtrodden, ductile, duteous, dutiful, eager, elastic, endorsing, extensible, extensile, fabricable, facile, faithful, favorable, fictile, flexible, flexile, flexuous, formable, formative, giving, ground down, hand in, henpecked, humble, humble-minded, humble-spirited, humblehearted, impressible, impressionable, in leading strings, ingratiating, knuckle, knuckle under, law-abiding, like putty, limber, lissome, lithe, lithesome, loyal, malleable, manageable, mean, meek, meek-minded, meek-spirited, meekhearted, menial, misused, moldable, nondissenting, nonresistant, nonresisting, nonresistive, nothing loath, obedient, obeisant, obeying, obsequious, offer, on bended knee, oppressed, ordered around, other-directed, overborne, passive, permissive, plastic, pliable, pliant, poor in spirit, present, proffer, prompt, prostrate, ratifying, ready, receptive, reconciled, refer, regimented, resigned, responsive, sanctioning, send, sensitive, sequacious, servile, shapable, slavish, springy, subdued, submit, subservient, succumb, supine, supple, surrender, susceptible, sycophantic, tender, timid, toadying, tractable, tractile, trampled, truckling, tyrannized, unassertive, uncomplaining, ungrudging, unloath, unmanned, unrefusing, unreluctant, unresistant, unresisting, whippy, willing, willowy, yielding
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