from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To bend the knee or touch one knee to the floor or ground, as in worship.
  • intransitive v. To be servilely respectful or deferential; grovel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To bend the knee, as in servitude or worship
  • v. To behave in a servile manner; to grovel.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To bend the knee, as in worship.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To bend the knee, as in an act of worship or of respect; perform genuflection.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. bend the knees and bow in church or before a religious superior or image
  • v. bend the knees and bow in a servile manner


Late Latin genūflectere : Latin genū, knee; see genu-1 in Indo-European roots + Latin flectere, to bend.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From around 1620–1630 from Medieval Latin genūflectō ("I bend the knee") equivalent to the Latin genū ("knee") + flectō ("to bend"). (Wiktionary)



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  • From p. 11 of Patrick Leigh Fermor's "A Time to Keep Silence":

    Here each pair of monks genuflected, inclined their heads one to another, and made their way to opposite stalls.

    January 21, 2014

  • LION
    And the sparrow would take wing
    'F -- I...'f -- I...were King!

    Each rabbit would show respect to me. The

    ...genuflect to me.
    Though my tail would lash
    I would show compash
    For every underling.
    'F -- I...'f -- I --- were King
    Just King!....

    June 11, 2010

  • Funny song... I have to agree with you.

    July 17, 2009

  • First you get down on your knees
    Fiddle with your rosaries
    Bow your head in great respect and--
    Genuflect, genuflect, genuflect...
    --Tom Lehrer, "The Vatican Rag"

    I can't help it, I start singing this song every time I see this word. Probably because I'm Catholic, I find it unbelievably amusing.

    January 15, 2008