adjective fac·ile \ ˈfa-səl \
|Updated on: 8 Jul 2018

Definition of facile

1 a (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. Eliot
b : used or comprehended with ease
c : readily manifested and often lacking sincerity or depth
  • facile tears
2 archaic : mild or pleasing in manner or disposition
3 a : ready, fluent
  • facile prose
b : 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 ProseThe Lives of the Muses2002
  2. Melville shrank from atheism, and from all facile theisms. —John UpdikeHugging 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 Aiken1978
  4. This problem needs more than just a facile solution.

  5. He is a wonderfully facile writer.

Recent Examples of facile from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'facile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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

borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin facilis "easy, accommodating, nimble," from fac-, stem of facere "to make, bring about, perform, do" + -ilis 1-ile — more at fact

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


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

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to hasten

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