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

Deft diplomacy will be as important as cost discipline and launching the right cars. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "Nissan Needs a New Carlos Ghosn," 8 Jan. 2019 The Chief has to send a message of discipline and restraint to willful lower-court judges as much as to Mr. Trump. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Chief Justice and the President," 27 Dec. 2018 After starting as the inn's only cook on opening night, when dinner was $4.95, O'Connell now oversees dozens of kitchen staff with discipline and humor. CBS News, "The Inn at Little Washington's recipe for success," 2 July 2018 Indigenous students are more likely to be subject to school discipline such as suspension and more likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system, and less likely to graduate from high school or attend college than their white peers. Teen Vogue, "New Mexico Teacher Accused of Calling a Native Student a "Bloody Indian" and Cutting Another's Hair on Halloween," 3 Dec. 2018 Gather some people from different disciplines — including at least one physician — and prepare a list of the most significant problems, describing their impact on patient care and suggesting possible solutions. Marie G. Mcintyre, The Seattle Times, "Struggling in the chaotic, stressful health-care workplace," 21 Nov. 2018 Hawking's former student Fay Dowker, now a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London, discussed how Hawking showed the public the importance of scientists, and also brought scientists together across disciplines. Sarah Lewin, Space.com, "Stephen Hawking's Children and Colleagues Discuss Physicist's Final Book, Legacy," 17 Oct. 2018 The following local residents were recently initiated into Phi Kappa Phi, a national collegiate honor society for college students, faculty, staff and alumni in all academic disciplines. Judith Zizzo, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Students from North Lauderdale, nearby inducted into Phi Kappa Phi honor society," 6 July 2018 Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 under the leadership of Marcus L. Urann who had a desire to create a different kind of honor society: one that recognized excellence in all academic disciplines. Community Report, Houston Chronicle, "Cleveland’s Miller inducted into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi," 1 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And speaking of Jones, add Spotify to the list of media services that are tentatively disciplining him in ways that will do him zero lasting harm, here’s Kurt Wagner: While Spotify is taking action, Jones and his podcast aren’t gone for good. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Senate warns tech companies on foreign interference: “Time is running out”," 2 Aug. 2018 State Police sought to discipline Bessner for misusing his Taser but an arbitrator declined to impose a 10-day suspension. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, "Prosecutors: Trooper charged with ATV murder used Taser to punish people," 7 June 2018 Taylor now evaluates appeals by prisoners who have been disciplined at prisons in eastern North Carolina. Fox News, "Top leaders at prison where 4 died demoted, took pay cuts," 27 Sep. 2018 Two Broward attorneys were among 13 across the state who were disciplined by the Florida Supreme Court in June. Rafael Olmeda, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Two Broward lawyers disciplined by Supreme Court," 2 July 2018 Even some officials who were disciplined have been raised as examples of the incomplete nature of Albany’s purported self-purification. Vivian Wang, New York Times, "The #MeToo Movement Came to Albany. But Will It Stick?," 1 June 2018 Last season, Murray started against Oklahoma in place of Mayfield, who was being disciplined for obscene gestures and yelling profanity the week before at Kansas. George Schroeder, USA TODAY, "Oklahoma has talent, confidence, but the Sooners face life without Baker Mayfield," 19 Apr. 2018 In Mississippi, among several students who were disciplined for the first offense of using profanity, black students were the only ones suspended from school, while white students received warnings and detention for substantially similar behavior. Michael Boren, Philly.com, "Black students punished more than white students in public schools, government watchdog says," 5 Apr. 2018 California has strict laws against releasing information on officers who are disciplined. Alexei Koseff, sacbee, "Police shootings raise plenty of outcry. Why California lawmakers don't act. | The Sacramento Bee," 23 Mar. 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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Last Updated

18 Jan 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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