discipline

noun
dis·​ci·​pline | \ ˈdi-sə-plən How to pronounce discipline (audio) \

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 How to pronounce disciplinal (audio) \ 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

Some dance with exaggerated technique, their faces pinched tight with discipline. New York Times, "Bomba: The Enduring Anthem of Puerto Rico," 7 July 2018 Kearney argued the school had been much softer with its discipline of former assistant football coach Major Applewhite for his behavior with the student trainer on the trip to the Fiesta Bowl after the 2008 season. Jim Vertuno, Houston Chronicle, "Texas to settle ex-coach discrimination lawsuit," 20 June 2018 Only the United Methodists, however, can threaten the attorney general with spiritual discipline as well as opprobrium. Jack Jenkins And Emily Mcfarlan Miller, USA TODAY, "600 United Methodists file complaint against Sessions for child abuse, discrimination," 19 June 2018 But school administrators occasionally cross what scholars have called legal lines, including some who threatened students planning to partake in anti-gun protests with discipline in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. Eli Rosenberg, Washington Post, "This valedictorian began to talk about sexual misconduct at her graduation. Then her mic was cut.," 9 June 2018 But school administrators occasionally cross what scholars have called legal lines, including some who threatened students planning to partake in anti-gun protests with discipline in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. Eli Rosenberg, ajc, "Valedictorian began talking about sexual misconduct at graduation. Then her mic was cut," 9 June 2018 Bohm is a slugger with great plate discipline and should breeze through the lower levels. Matt Breen, Philly.com, "How the Phillies attacked the MLB draft | Matt Breen," 7 June 2018 Cruz was also assigned to a controversial program that diverts troubled students to alternative schools over the criminal-justice system — critics contend the program encourages a culture of lax discipline. David Ovalle, miamiherald, "'All the signs were there.' On video, guard says school knew Parkland shooter posed threat," 5 June 2018 In the video, an administrator is also heard explaining that the student was not the only one facing discipline because of her hairstyle. Amira Rasool, Allure, "A Black Student’s Elementary School Reportedly Sent Her Home for Wearing Box Braids," 22 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Good generals learn to discipline their imaginations. Lance Morrow, WSJ, "Trump-Russia Made for Gripping Fiction," 26 Mar. 2019 These same teens are twice as likely to be disciplined than their white peers in school and are twice as likely to be incarcerated for minor crimes than teens of any other race. Rebecca Nagle, Teen Vogue, "Invisibility is the Modern Form of Racism Against Native Americans," 23 Oct. 2018 Nobody teaches you how to be disciplined in these situations, where everything’s trying to sweep you off your feet. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Wearables pioneer Jawbone is back with a new mission: Warning you about health problems you didn’t know you had," 26 Sep. 2018 French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb will face questions from parliament next week to see if the government failed to properly discipline Benalla. Fox News, "French investigators raid home of Macron's bodyguard," 21 July 2018 When the current board makes recommendations for officers to be disciplined, the decision ultimately falls with the police commissioner. Jessica Anderson, baltimoresun.com, "Panel reviewing police civilian oversight calls for more powerful 'independent police accountability agency'," 13 July 2018 The city could still seek to discipline Rialmo in the altercation. Dan Hinkel, chicagotribune.com, "Chicago cop involved in controversial fatal shooting cleared by judge in bar fight," 10 July 2018 Before there was even a first eviction this season, viewers were already calling for Houseguests Angela Rummans and Rachel Swindle to be disciplined for racist comments about their deepening tans. Michael Andor Brodeur, BostonGlobe.com, "Cleaning house at ‘Big Brother’," 5 July 2018 Wray has vowed to discipline those still at the FBI whose conduct the inspector general questioned, and already, the bureau has taken steps toward firing agent Peter Strzok, who once led the Clinton email and Russia probes. Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post, "Rosenstein, Wray to testify before House Judiciary Committee on inspector general’s report," 28 June 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

12 Apr 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 How to pronounce discipline (audio) \

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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