The Meaning of Submissive: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of submissive? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word submissive, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word submissive mean?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and Collins English Dictionary, the word submissive is an adjective that describes someone or something that has the characteristic of a slave or servant. This person or thing has such inclination to appease the wishes of others. Such stereotypes are seen in many different slave and servant characters in film and television who want nothing more than to appease their masters. 

Submissive behavior is also a part of the BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism, Masochism) lifestyle. Often submissive females and a dominant male enjoy this type of play, though there are many situations in which a sexual encounter may involve a dominant female and a submissive male, or a dominant female and a submissive female, or a dominant male and a submissive male, or even a  combination including a posersion who is nonbinary or gender nonconforming who can take on either role. Many people may have a fantasy of a dominant partner or a submissive partner. People often have safe words or hard limits so that the sexual play remains fun and does not become overwhelming or frightening. Many things can be submissive, including a submissive reply, submissive servants, submissive roles, a submissive personality, and more. This implies a lack of self-confidence, meekness and timidity.

The word submissive is three syllables – sub-mis-sive. Related forms such as a noun, adverb and verb can be formed by adding suffixes such as ness and ly. This can form words such as submission, submissiveness, and submissively. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean submissive. You may notice that some of these words look very similar to one another. These are called cognates. Cognates are words and phrases that look and sound similar between languages while also meaning something similar. These are often formed when two words have the same language of origin or root. This list of translations for the word submissive is provided by Word Sense

  •  Navajo: hoołtsoodii‎
  •  Arabic: خَاضِع‎
  •  Japanese: 服従的‎
  •  French: soumis‎
  •  Slovak: pokorný‎
  •  Manx: beasagh‎
  •  Dutch: onderdanig‎
  •  Italian: sottomesso‎
  •  Spanish: sumiso‎
  •  Belarusian: пако́рлівы‎
  •  Polish: pokorny‎
  •  Roman: pokoran‎
  •  Czech: pokorný‎
  •  Bulgarian: покорен‎
  •  Cyrillic: покоран‎
  •  Turkish: boyun eğen‎, itaatkâr‎, itaatli‎, teslîmiyetçi‎, uysallıkla‎
  •  Finnish: alistuva‎, nöyrästi myöntyvä
  •  Portuguese: submisso‎ (masc.), submissivo‎ (masc.)
  •  Macedonian: покорен‎
  •  Swedish: lydig‎, ödmjuk‎, underdånig‎, undergiven‎
  •  German: submissiv‎, unterwürfig‎, demütig‎, fügsam‎, gefügig‎, gehorsam‎
  •  Ukrainian: покірний‎
  •  Maori: iro‎ (as a result of punishment), iroiro‎ (as a result of punishment)
  •  Romanian: supus‎ (masc.) (n), docil‎ (masc.) (n), umil‎ (masc.) (n)
  •  Russian: поко́рный‎, смире́нный‎, послу́шный‎

How can the word submissive be used in a sentence?

​​The word submissive can be used in many different sentences in common use in the American English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to remember their definitions. You can also try to make flashcards or quizzes for yourself to test your knowledge. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! It may become a new favorite word. Below are a few different examples of the word submissive to get you started. 

They followed the instructions for building the model with a type of slavish devotion. The one boy just wanted to have fun and be creative with the pieces they were siven, but the rest of the crew was submissive to the instructions they were given.

The people at the pisces who had a modest lifestyle did not know how to cope with the party bosses’ behavior. Should they be submissive to their superiors and go out drinking every night? It felt excessive but they did not know what to do. 

Due to the young athlete’s Olympics knowledge, she knew that she had to be submissive to ehr coaches and extremely dedicated to her sport in order to get a gold medal. Her goal was to be an Olympic champion in equestrian by the time she was fifteen. 

What are synonyms and antonyms of submissive?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word submissive. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same definition as another given word or phrase. Synonyms are a great way to expand your English language vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word submissive is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  supple
  •  responsive
  •  lenient
  •  irresolute
  •  pliant
  •  dutiful
  •  patient
  •  docile
  •  subservient
  •  tame
  •  malleable
  •  flexible
  •  pliable
  •  obedient
  •  respectful
  •  mild
  •  meek
  •  tractable
  •  manageable
  •  subdued
  •  ingratiating
  •  amenable
  •  deferential
  •  ductile
  •  receptive
  •  cringing
  •  acquiescent
  •  conformable
  •  resigned
  •  lamblike
  •  duteous
  •  fawning
  •  weak
  •  abject
  •  slavish
  •  soft
  •  obsequious
  •  yielding
  •  governable
  •  unresisting
  •  complaisant
  •  unassertive
  •  biddable
  •  willing
  •  accommodating
  •  passive
  •  humble
  •  timid
  •  servile

There are also many different words that have the opposite meaning as the word submissive. These are called antonyms, which are opposite words to synonyms. These words contain the opposite meaning of a given word or phrase. This list of antonyms for the word submissive is also provided by Power Thesaurus. 

  •  shameless
  •  contumacious
  •  obstinate
  •  rebellious
  •  defiant
  •  errant
  •  rebel
  •  restive
  •  misbehaving
  •  ill-bred
  •  proud
  •  pigheaded
  •  unbending
  •  magisterial
  •  firm
  •  incompliant
  •  cavalier
  •  self-willed
  •  dominating
  •  mischievous
  •  ill-mannered
  •  fighting
  •  tyrannous
  •  undisciplined
  •  tyrannical
  •  out of control
  •  high-handed
  •  stubborn as a mule
  •  determined
  •  bull-headed
  •  perverse
  •  stiff-necked
  •  unservile
  •  insurgent
  •  pertinacious
  •  roughshod
  •  opinionated
  •  heavy-handed
  •  disorderly
  •  oppressive
  •  impolite
  •  high-and-mighty
  •  uncontrollable
  •  peremptory
  •  rude
  •  resolute
  •  assertive
  •  royal
  •  bad
  •  contrary
  •  mulish
  •  balky
  •  naughty
  •  inflexible
  •  intractable
  •  unruly
  •  dominant
  •  obdurate
  •  unyielding
  •  aggressive
  •  sassy
  •  obstreperous
  •  refractory
  •  headstrong
  •  bullying
  •  dogged
  •  bossy
  •  domineering
  •  overbearing
  •  unmanageable
  •  recalcitrant
  •  authoritarian
  •  willful
  •  insubordinate
  •  blustery
  •  absolute
  •  bloody-minded
  •  stubborn
  •  contemptuous
  •  adamant
  •  hardheaded
  •  ungovernable
  •  disrespectful
  •  mutinous
  •  froward
  •  resistant
  •  disobedient
  •  autocratic
  •  wild
  •  dictatorial
  •  arrogant

Overall, the word submissive means


  1. Submissive | Word Sense
  2. Submissive synonyms – 946 Words and Phrases for Submissive | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Submissive antonyms – 494 Opposites of Submissive | Power Thesaurus