How can you write dialog where someone is groveling?

I'm thinking of something like this:

"Why were you late for work? Explain yourself."


The response would be the person groveling.

But this task makes no sense to me. Can anyone give a better example of groveling in dialog?

  • I've tried to edit your question to be more clear, but I'm not sure I understand what you're looking for. Simply apologizing instead of offering an explanation would not be "groveling." Are you looking for an example to explain what groveling means, or a line of dialog to express that the person is groveling ? If you want to see an example of what the word "groveling" means, English.SE would be more appropriate. Oct 13, 2011 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


Don't just say, go for action. Grovelling is better expressed through actions and attitudes rather than straight dialogue. Of course, you can also add speech such as rambling or begging for forgiveness and kissing up, but actions make more of an impact.

For example:

"Sorry!" The word came out as no more than a squeak through a throat tightened in terror. He fell to his knees not daring to meet the mafia boss' eyes and kissed the shiny leather shoes repeatedly.

  • 3
    This is great advice. Some dialogue can be useful and memorable, but simply going through the motions of dialogue that is 'groveling' is not enough. My family has always loved this piece of dialogue that sums up groveling from the live action 101 Dalmations: Frederick: "I thought we liked stripes this year." Cruella De Vil: "What kind of sycophant are you?" Frederick: "Uh... what kind of sycophant would you like me to be?" Oct 14, 2011 at 0:39

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