doc·​ile | \ ˈdä-səl How to pronounce docile (audio) also -ˌsī(-ə)l, especially British ˈdō-ˌsī(-ə)l \

Definition of docile

1 : easily taught a docile pupil
2 : easily led or managed : tractable a docile pony

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Other Words from docile

docilely \ ˈdä-​sə(l)-​lē How to pronounce docile (audio) \ adverb
docility \ dä-​ˈsi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce docile (audio) , dō-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for docile

obedient, docile, tractable, amenable mean submissive to the will of another. obedient implies compliance with the demands or requests of one in authority. obedient to the government docile implies a predisposition to submit readily to control or guidance. a docile child tractable suggests having a character that permits easy handling or managing. tractable animals amenable suggests a willingness to yield or cooperate because of a desire to be agreeable or because of a natural open-mindedness. amenable to new ideas

Ready to learn the origin of docile?

Docile students can make teaching a lot easier. Nowadays, calling students "docile" indicates they aren't trouble-makers. But there's more than just good behavior connecting docility to teachability. The original meaning of "docile" is more to the point: "readily absorbing something taught." "The docile mind may soon thy precepts know," rendered Ben Jonson, for example, in a 17th-century translation of the Roman poet Horace. "Docile" comes from Latin docēre, which means "to teach." Other descendants of "docēre" include "doctrine" (which can mean "something that is taught"), "document" (the earliest meaning of which was "instruction"), and "doctor" and "docent" (both of which can refer to college teachers).

Examples of docile in a Sentence

In the course of a single month, from Annie's arrival to her triumph in bridling the household despot, Helen [Keller] had grown docile, affectionate, and tirelessly intent on learning from moment to moment. — Cynthia Ozick, New Yorker, 16 & 23 June 2003 Africanized honeybees look like the European honeybees now commonly found in our gardens, and like their relatives, they make honey. They are fairly docile when they are foraging, but they defend their nests ferociously. — Lynn Ocone, Sunset, February 1994 His students were docile and eager to learn. a docile young pony that went wherever it was led
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Recent Examples on the Web Here, many deer are so docile and habituated to human contact that they can be seen ambling along the boardwalk. Beth Decarbo, WSJ, "Why Controlling Deer Is Such a Bear," 3 Dec. 2020 The series begins with Beth as a quiet 9-year-old, who has just been orphaned by a car crash and is delivered to a depressing orphanage that hands out tranquilizers like candy to keep the kids docile. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "'The Queen's Gambit': This Netflix miniseries about chess is one of the best shows of 2020," 28 Oct. 2020 Though a number of people testified that the dog had been docile in past interactions, Briggs said those people did not provide any information on Dexter’s behavior on the day of the attack. Nicholas Rondinone,, "State rules dog that fatally mauled 95-year-old Enfield woman can be put down," 21 Oct. 2020 His younger sister, Alexandra Siliezar, said her docile 56-year-old brother who suffered a traumatic brain injury, PTSD, seizures, and dementia called her every day and was extremely close to her daughter, his niece. Mallory Moench,, "S.F. family searches for missing vulnerable Marine veteran ‘to save his life as soon as possible’," 3 Oct. 2020 Both the novel and the film, which Greenlee produced with Dixon, concern an apparently docile Black C.I.A. employee with the allegorical name Dan Freeman. J. Hoberman, New York Times, "The Spy Movie That Upset the American Dream," 18 Sep. 2020 With over 70 hives of relatively docile European honeybees, there is ample opportunity for hands-on learning in the hobby beekeeping classes. Shaena Montanari, The Arizona Republic, "Want to be a backyard beekeeper in Phoenix? Here's where to learn how to handle the hives," 22 Sep. 2020 Churchill Downs was docile enough to put its common and most familiar foot forward for America’s most famous race. Joe Drape, New York Times, "Authentic Wins the Kentucky Derby, Run Without Fans," 5 Sep. 2020 Eventually, the dog became docile enough that Joe Varanese could tie him up outside. Andrew Boryga,, "Family adopted rescue dog two weeks ago, and then it mauled its owner to death," 31 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'docile.' 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 docile

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for docile

Latin docilis, from docēre to teach; akin to Latin decēre to be fitting — more at decent

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Time Traveler for docile

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The first known use of docile was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

15 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Docile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for docile


How to pronounce docile (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of docile

: easily taught, led, or controlled


doc·​ile | \ ˈdä-səl How to pronounce docile (audio) \

Kids Definition of docile

: easily taught, led, or managed a docile horse

Other Words from docile

docilely adverb

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Comments on docile

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