discipline

noun
dis·​ci·​pline | \ ˈdi-sə-plən \

Definition of discipline

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : control gained by enforcing obedience or order
b : orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
3 : training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
4 : a field of study
5 : a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity
6 obsolete : instruction

discipline

verb
disci·​pline
disciplined; disciplining

Definition of discipline (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to punish or penalize for the sake of enforcing obedience and perfecting moral character
2 : to train or develop by instruction and exercise especially in self-control
3a : to bring (a group) under control discipline troops
b : to impose order upon serious writers discipline and refine their writing styles

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Other Words from discipline

Noun

disciplinal \ -​plə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Verb

discipliner noun

Choose the Right Synonym for discipline

Verb

punish, chastise, castigate, chasten, discipline, correct mean to inflict a penalty on in requital for wrongdoing. punish implies subjecting to a penalty for wrongdoing. punished for stealing chastise may apply to either the infliction of corporal punishment or to verbal censure or denunciation. chastised his son for neglecting his studies castigate usually implies a severe, typically public censure. an editorial castigating the entire city council chasten suggests any affliction or trial that leaves one humbled or subdued. chastened by a landslide election defeat discipline implies a punishing or chastening in order to bring under control. parents must discipline their children correct implies punishing aimed at reforming an offender. the function of prison is to correct the wrongdoer

teach, instruct, educate, train, discipline, school mean to cause to acquire knowledge or skill. teach applies to any manner of imparting information or skill so that others may learn. taught us a lot about our planet instruct suggests methodical or formal teaching. instructs raw recruits in military drill educate implies development of the mind. more things than formal schooling serve to educate a person train stresses instruction and drill with a specific end in view. trained foreign pilots to operate the new aircraft discipline implies training in habits of order and precision. a disciplined mind school implies training or disciplining especially in what is hard to master. schooled the horse in five gaits

The Root and Meanings of Discipline

Discipline comes from discipulus, the Latin word for pupil, which also provided the source of the word disciple (albeit by way of a Late Latin sense-shift to “a follower of Jesus Christ in his lifetime”). Given that several meanings of discipline deal with study, governing one’s behavior, and instruction, one might assume that the word’s first meaning in English had to do with education. In fact, the earliest known use of discipline appears to be punishment-related; it first was used in the 13th century to refer to chastisement of a religious nature, such as self-flagellation.

Examples of discipline in a Sentence

Noun

Sir Robert Peel is credited with creating the first modern police force, the bobbies, in London, in 1829, but the transformation of law enforcement, and especially forensic science, into a professional discipline was a haphazard affair. — Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker, 7 May 2007 Pragmatism became America's most important contribution to the life of the mind in the 20th century. Filtered through scores of later interpreters, it percolated across a broad segment of academic culture and influenced disciplines as diverse as literary criticism and legal theory. — Theo Anderson, Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2007 So the next fall I went to Hampshire College and began studying under Herbert Bernstein. Without him, I would never have become a scientist. He shamed me into doing the hard work necessary to be able not just to talk about math and physics but to calculate. Without that discipline, my story would have been very different … — Lee Smolin, Curious Minds, (2004) 2005 He stood erect, his bearing patrician, his dress impeccable. His face was stern and his pale eyes unsmiling behind his trifocals, like a man who had been called from important duties in the principal's office to administer discipline to an unruly classroom. — Nick Taylor, Laser, 2000 The teacher has a hard time maintaining discipline in the classroom. The troops were praised for their dedication and discipline. Some parents feel that the school's principal has been too harsh in meting out discipline. Keeping a journal is a good discipline for a writer.

Verb

The Army disciplined seven men for the incident, penalties ranging from pay-cuts and loss of rank to dismissal from the Rangers and return to the rank-and-file Army. — Gary Smith, Sports Illustrated, 11 Sept. 2006 Volunteers have to undergo a program to discipline the mind and cleanse the soul. — Aparism Ghosh, Time, 4 July 2005 The teacher then took me to the principal's office. There, the principal attempted to discipline me with an old Catholic school technique called "paddling" … — Lalo Gomez, Undoing Time, 2001 She was disciplined for misbehaving in class. He seems unwilling or unable to discipline his children. I'm trying to discipline myself to eat less.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Apparently the Wharton School failed to teach Machiavelli on the advantages of discipline over rage. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "If Trump Were a Poet, He’d Be Rudyard Kipling," 26 Dec. 2018 With Chrome, Firefox, and Edge all as going concerns, a fair amount of discipline is imposed on Web developers. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Google isn’t the company that we should have handed the Web over to," 17 Dec. 2018 The city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates police misconduct allegations, has yet to announce the findings of its investigation into the bar fight or any potential recommendation of discipline. Dan Hinkel, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago cop involved in controversial fatal shooting cleared by judge in bar fight," 10 July 2018 Spending volatility' is a function of political discipline, something lacking in Sacramento. sacbee, "Tax haircuts and concerts – or the rich? Californians consider the options," 9 July 2018 Virtually every metropolitan area faces a shortage of talent across any number of disciplines. kansascity, "Jean Paul Bradshaw," 30 June 2018 Now in its 10th year, the Kresge Artist Fellowships program provides $25,000 stipends for myriad metro Detroit artists in a multitude of disciplines. Ryan Patrick Hooper, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit artists receive $25,000 grants from Kresge," 20 June 2018 In 2016, children in a shelter in the Cameron County town of Los Fresnos were being told to sit down for four hours as a form of discipline. New York Times, "Inside the Former Walmart That Is Now a Shelter for Almost 1,500 Migrant Children," 14 June 2018 This imposes a level of discipline that individual investors often lack. Kathleen Pender, San Francisco Chronicle, "Target date funds surge as more workers put 401(k) plans on autopilot," 5 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

There's disciplined use of branching to try to make merges easy and predictable. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Microsoft’s problem isn’t how often it updates Windows—it’s how it develops it," 20 Oct. 2018 Puig and Sano were not disciplined, and suspensions for the others ranged from 15 games for Familia to 100 games for Torres. Fox News, "Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell placed on leave after domestic violence claims," 22 Sep. 2018 Other legislators, including Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Woodland Hills) and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), were disciplined for behaving inappropriately through, respectively, unwanted hugs and vulgar language. John Myers, latimes.com, "California legislative investigation finds Assemblyman Devon Mathis violated sexual harassment policy," 11 July 2018 In the matter of keeping his judicial promises to conservative activists, Trump has been uncharacteristically disciplined. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "A Look at Trump’s Shortlist For Replacing Anthony Kennedy," 3 July 2018 Denmark is disciplined, and has a solid roster, but Croatia's creativity and big-game experience will be hard to overcome. Michelle Kaufman, miamiherald, "2018 World Cup Round of 16 Preview: Everything You Need to Know," 29 June 2018 To be an effective writer, one must be disciplined enough to write every single day. Lisa Deaderick, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Finding her voice with other veterans," 3 June 2018 Three students from Midlothian schools — a district southwest of Dallas — were disciplined after posting a video showing a young man uttering a racist slur 25 times in 10 seconds. Diane Smith, star-telegram, "North Texas students disciplined after racist video goes viral," 10 May 2018 Black students with disabilities and boys with disabilities were disproportionately disciplined across all six actions. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Racial bias causes black boys to be disciplined at school more than whites, federal report says," 11 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'discipline.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of discipline

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for discipline

Noun

Middle English, "chastisement, system of ordered conduct, instruction, branch of learning," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin disciplīna "teaching, instruction, branch of study, orderly conduct based on moral training" (Medieval Latin, "chastisement, scourging"), from discipulus "pupil, learner" + -īna, suffix denoting a place or practice (from noun derivative of feminine of -īnus -ine entry 1) — more at disciple

Verb

Middle English disciplinen "to subject to chastisement, educate," borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French discipliner, borrowed from Late Latin disciplīnāre "to teach" (Medieval Latin, "to punish, scourge"), derivative of Latin disciplīna "teaching, discipline entry 1"

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Statistics for discipline

Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for discipline

The first known use of discipline was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for discipline

discipline

noun

English Language Learners Definition of discipline

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behavior
: a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders
: behavior that is judged by how well it follows a set of rules or orders

discipline

verb

English Language Learners Definition of discipline (Entry 2 of 2)

: to punish (someone) as a way of making sure that rules or orders are obeyed
: to train (yourself) to do something by controlling your behavior

discipline

noun
dis·​ci·​pline | \ ˈdi-sə-plən \

Kids Definition of discipline

 (Entry 1 of 2)

2 : strict training that corrects or strengthens “Boys need discipline,” he said.
3 : habits and ways of acting that are gotten through practice At this point in the act the penguins always forgot their discipline— Richard and Florence Atwater, Mr. Popper's Penguins
4 : control that is gained by insisting that rules be followed The teacher tried to maintain discipline.

discipline

verb
disciplined; disciplining

Kids Definition of discipline (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to punish as a way to bring about good behavior The principal disciplined the troublemakers.
2 : to train in self-control or obedience The diet disciplines overeaters.
3 : to bring under control discipline troops

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Comments on discipline

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