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

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 local animals are chosen specifically for such events because of their docile nature., "City residents encounter county livestock at fair's petting farm," 29 June 2018 The Soviet canine recruiters began their quest with a herd of female stray dogs because females were smaller and apparently more docile. Alice George, Smithsonian, "The Sad, Sad Story of Laika, the Space Dog, and Her One-Way Trip into Orbit," 12 Apr. 2018 Despite his popularity, Daniel is something of a misfit, as tigers go: a docile, people-loving creature who lives inside a cuckoo clock. Robert Ito, New York Times, "Fred Rogers’s Life in 5 Artifacts," 5 June 2018 Turns out, Venmo John was too docile, too eager-to-please — too successful and therefore not needy enough — for this show. Rebecca Farley,, "The Bachelorette Season 14, Episode 5 Recap: Your Greatest Power," 26 June 2018 At times, Frank was docile, and was sometimes seen quietly staring at cars in the nearby Cascade Auto Group. Jennifer Conn, Akron Reporter,, "Frank, the notorious Cuyahoga Falls wild turkey, has died," 22 Feb. 2018 The masses are kept docile by an endless stream of game shows, but none is more famous than The Running Man, which pits convicted criminals against seasoned assassins, with a pardon waiting if the victims survive. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "10 subversive, dark American futures to stream on July 4th," 4 July 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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Statistics for docile

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for docile

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

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More Definitions for docile



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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