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. 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 The ship arrives in La Paz the following day, with options to kayak through a mangrove forest, visit artisan studios, snorkel, or swim with docile whale sharks. Patricia Doherty, Travel + Leisure, 15 Nov. 2021 Within the horses' DNA was evidence of domestication, including genes associated with more docile behavior, endurance, stress resilience and a stronger backbone to support more weight. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 22 Oct. 2021 Zoomies have to do with a dog's personality, some are more enthusiastic, and some are docile. Kelli Bender,, 13 Oct. 2021 The goal of national rejuvenation, therefore, requires China to be strong and unyielding, to prevent the country from being bullied by outsiders who seek to keep it weak, docile and divided. New York Times, 7 July 2021 Kangaroos, though usually docile, can be quite aggressive. Marisa Dellatto, Forbes, 12 Oct. 2021 The possibilities are humbling: screen embryos for low intelligence to provide docile labor, screen for aggression to supply soldiers, screen for universal organ donors. WSJ, 7 Sep. 2021 López stripped her docile demeanor and transformed herself and her family members into living, breathing, everyday-yet-holy brown women. Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2021 Many of the trails in our inland areas, such as the Ramona Grasslands, Santa Ysabel Preserve, Mission Trails Regional Park, Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve and San Diego National Wildlife Refuge are great places to encounter these docile spiders. San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Aug. 2021

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

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Last Updated

22 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Docile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for docile



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

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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