adjective fac·ile \ˈfa-səl\

Definition of facile

  1. 1a (1) :  easily accomplished or attained a facile victory (2) :  shallow, simplistic I am not concerned … with offering any facile solution for so complex a problem — T. S. Eliotb :  used or comprehended with easec :  readily manifested and often lacking sincerity or depth facile tears

  2. 2 archaic :  mild or pleasing in manner or disposition

  3. 3a :  ready, fluent facile proseb :  poised, assured a facile lecturer


play \ˈfa-sə(l)-lē\ adverb


play \ˈfa-səl-nəs\ noun

facile was our Word of the Day on 01/03/2008. Hear the podcast!

Examples of facile in a sentence

  1. But in the less palmy days of their marriage and the final years of his life, Lennon produced (with Yoko's help) shallow, facile recordings that cannibalized his early work. —Francine Prose, The Lives of the Muses, 2002

  2. Melville shrank from atheism, and from all facile theisms. —John Updike, Hugging the Shore, (1983) 1984

  3. … I saw that my old enemy was dead, Amy [Lowell], noble Amy. How I despised myself then for my facile self-pity and for my failure to die—how she seemed to have worsted me once again. —Conrad Aiken, 14 May 1925, in Selected Letters of Conrad Aiken, 1978

  4. This problem needs more than just a facile solution.

  5. He is a wonderfully facile writer.

Did You Know?

Would you have guessed that "facile" and "difficult" are related? They are! "Facile" comes to us through Middle French, from the Latin word facilis, meaning "easy, and ultimately from facere, meaning "to make or do." "Difficult" traces to "facilis" as well, but its history also involves the negative prefix dis-, meaning "not." "Facile" can mean "easy" or "easily done," as befits its Latin roots, but it now often adds the connotation of undue haste or shallowness, as in "facile answers to complex questions."

Origin and Etymology of facile

Medieval French, from Latin facilis, from facere to do — more at do

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of facile

easy, facile, simple, light, effortless, smooth mean not demanding effort or involving difficulty. easy is applicable either to persons or things imposing tasks or to activity required by such tasks an easy college course. facile often adds to easy the connotation of undue haste or shallowness facile answers to complex questions. simple stresses ease in understanding or dealing with because complication is absent a simple problem in arithmetic. light stresses freedom from what is burdensome a light teaching load. effortless stresses the appearance of ease and usually implies the prior attainment of artistry or expertness moving with effortless grace. smooth stresses the absence or removal of all difficulties, hardships, or obstacles a smooth ride.

FACILE Defined for English Language Learners


adjective fac·ile \ˈfa-səl\

Definition of facile for English Language Learners

  • : too simple : not showing enough thought or effort

  • : done or achieved in a way that is too easy

  • : working, moving, or performing well and very easily

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up facile? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a rounded knoll or a ridge of ice

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.