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From Middle English meyneal, from Anglo-Norman mesnal, from maisnee (household), from Vulgar Latin mansionata, from Latin mānsiō (house).


  • enPR: mē'nēəl, IPA(key): /ˈmiːni.əl/
  • (file)


menial (comparative more menial, superlative most menial)

  1. Of or relating to work normally performed by a servant.
  2. Of or relating to unskilled work.
    menial job
    • 1910 October 1, G[ilbert] K[eith] Chesterton, “The Queer Feet”, in The Innocence of Father Brown, London; New York, N.Y.: Cassell and Company, published 1911, OCLC 2716904:
      Father Brown took the paper without a word, and obediently went to look for the coat; it was not the first menial work he had done in his life.
    • 1913 August, Jack London, John Barleycorn, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., OCLC 264225:
      I didn't see how sweeping and scrubbing a building was any preparation for the trade of electrician; but I did know that in the books all the boys started with the most menial tasks and by making good ultimately won to the ownership of the whole concern.
    • 2011, Chris Manning, Sudarno Sumarto, Employment, Living Standards and Poverty in Contemporary Indonesia, →ISBN:
      For instance, controlling for the above-mentioned variables, migrants to Tangerang or Samarinda (rather than Medan) have a significantly greater chance of getting a craft (as opposed to menial) job.
  3. Servile; low; mean.
    a menial wretch



menial (plural menials)

  1. A servant, especially a domestic servant.
    • 1820, [Walter Scott], chapter 3, in The Abbot. [], volume I, Edinburgh: [] [James Ballantyne & Co.] for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, []; and for Archibald Constable and Company, and John Ballantyne, [], OCLC 963570130:
      “Nay, Dame Mary,” answered the Knight, “it is enough you desire such an attendant.—Yet I have never loved to nurse such useless menials—a lady's page—it may well suit the proud English dames to have a slender youth to bear their trains from bower to hall, fan them when they slumber, and touch the lute for them when they please to listen; []
    • 1879, Henry James, Daisy Miller, London: Harper & Brothers:
      But the young man was conscious, at the same moment, that it had ceased to be a matter of serious regret to him that the little American flirt should be “talked about” by low-minded menials.
    • a. 1911, David Graham Phillips, Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise[1]:
      Was this stupid system, so cruel, so crushing, and producing at the top such absurd results as flashy, insolent autos and silly palaces and overfed, overdressed women, and dogs in jeweled collars, and babies of wealth brought up by low menials—was this system really the best?
    • 1913 December – 1914 March, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Warlord of Mars, Chicago, Ill.: A[lexander] C[aldwell] McClurg & Co., published September 1919, OCLC 787779:
      He told me that princes, jeds, and even jeddaks of the outer world, were among the menials who served the yellow race; []
    • 1922, Michael Arlen, “Ep./4/2”, in “Piracy”: A Romantic Chronicle of These Days:
      The world was awake to the 2nd of May, but Mayfair is not the world, and even the menials of Mayfair lie long abed.
  2. A person who has a subservient nature.

Related termsEdit



Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of meyneal