Two Words: Obsequious & Fauxmotion

Waiter with congratulations card and cupcake

A person who is obsequious is one who is obedient or attentive to an extreme.  When we have someone who gives us excellent, attentive service in a restaurant we might describe that person as obsequious.

Some sources also associate obsequiousness with people who follow rather than lead.  People who have an eagerness to please others can be described as obsequious.  It can also be used negatively in describing someone who is subservient or who goes to extremes to please others.

Obsequious is an adjective; obsequiousness is a noun; and obsequiously is an adverb.

“At the office, the obsequious accountant complimented the CPA so often that she quickly advanced up the corporate ladder.”

“Roger was very obsequious and was ready to do everything for our health and wellness.”

Separator Black Fancy

If someone tells you they got a promotion at work, but they got no added responsibility or pay, what they really got was a fauxmotion.  Fauxmotion is a slang term meaning “fake promotion.”  Lateral moves in a corporation that result in different work and a lot of praise, but no added pay, are in this category.

From our earlier study we know that fauxmotion falls into the category of a portmanteau.  It comes from the mashing up of two real words into a new word, even though in this case it produced a fake word.  Faux is a French word that has been adopted into English to mean something not real.  It is used in descriptions like faux fur, faux pearls, faux diamonds, or faux meat.

Since one possible origin of the term portmanteau is from the book Through the Looking Glass, the slang term fauxmotion is appropriately named.