doc·​ile | \ˈdä-səl 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 \ adverb
docility \dä-​ˈsi-​lə-​tē, 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

These are not docile pets — and the ravenmaster bared the scars of nasty bites. William Booth, The Seattle Times, "The secrets of the royal ravenmaster at the Tower of London," 26 Oct. 2018 Only the elderly and the very docile are left in the villages. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "China’s reeducation camps for Muslims are begining to look like concentration camps," 24 Oct. 2018 These actions aren’t the signs of docile countries accepting the inevitability of Chinese hegemony. WSJ, "U.S., Allies Can Limit China’s Power Grabs if They Cooperate," 1 Aug. 2018 The female of the species is known for stinging unsuspecting cockroaches with a nasty venom that turns the roach into her docile slave. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Cockroaches deliver karate kicks to avoid being turned into “zombies”," 3 Nov. 2018 And while the world has condemned his disappearance, the US has remained quite docile. Alex Ward, Vox, "The US just punished Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi — in a very small way," 18 Oct. 2018 Normally a docile dog, the pup’s protective instincts kicked in, prompting him to bite the stranger on the leg, the couple told Fox News. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Illinois family 'destroyed' after dog mistakenly euthanized: 'How could this happen?'," 11 Aug. 2018 In its most docile form, the tidy engine makes 260 horsepower, but when fitted with a turbocharger, a supercharger and a pair of electric motors, Volvo increases the output to 400 horsepower. Kyle Stock,, "Replacement for displacement has arrived in small engines making a whole lotta horsepower," 19 June 2018 Frankly, Tiger’s crowds have become a lot more docile than the weather. Marcus Hayes,, "Tiger Woods sends fans home happy, then joins them|Marcus Hayes," 15 June 2018

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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Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for docile

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

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English Language Learners Definition of docile

: easily taught, led, or controlled


doc·​ile | \ˈdä-səl \

Kids Definition of docile

: easily taught, led, or managed a docile horse

Other Words from docile

docilely adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on docile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with docile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for docile

Spanish Central: Translation of docile

Nglish: Translation of docile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of docile for Arabic Speakers

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