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

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; however, 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 (an early 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
Recent Examples on the Web Join the gang, the rough and tough AI says to the polite and docile AI. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 17 Mar. 2022 Terry, a corporate drone who still brags about his Ivy League pedigree, tries on various macho archetypes: the decisive patriarch, the rugged woodsman, the breadwinner who commutes home every night to a docile wife. Judy Berman, Time, 3 Mar. 2022 In his influential work Discipline and Punish, French theorist Michel Foucault digs deep into the mechanisms that shape our modern society and turn us into docile bodies, cogs in a machine. Jelena Radonjic, Forbes, 7 Dec. 2021 At the Atlanta Asian Justice rally, which drew some 100 people, speakers railed against the stereotypes of Asian women as either docile or exotic and said those harmful perceptions contribute to the violence. Kate Brumback, ajc, 17 Mar. 2022 Moreover, in the fullness of time, hyenas, like guinea pigs, might wise up and become more docile and friendly. Joe Queenan, WSJ, 20 Jan. 2022 Ann Bryant, who oversees the advocacy group Bear League, said the Tahoe Keys bear is docile and only searching for food. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 19 Feb. 2022 Boogie and Woogie ambled over to a driveway where the homeowner corralled the docile creatures with some rope and called animal control, Riday said. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 12 Jan. 2022 Though hippos in the wild have a reputation for being territorial and can be dangerous to humans, Fiona is docile and sweet with her caregivers, something Wingate attributes to the fact that she was nursed, literally, from birth by humans. cleveland, 15 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

2 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Docile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for docile


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

More from Merriam-Webster on docile

Nglish: Translation of docile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of docile for Arabic Speakers


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