mal·​lea·​ble ˈma-lē-ə-bəl How to pronounce malleable (audio)
: capable of being extended or shaped by beating with a hammer or by the pressure of rollers
: capable of being altered or controlled by outside forces or influences
: having a capacity for adaptive change

Did you know?

Malleable comes from the Latin verb malleare, meaning "to hammer." Malleare itself comes from the Latin word for "hammer," malleus. If you have guessed that maul and mallet, other English words for specific types of hammers, are related to malleus, you have hit the nail on the head.

Choose the Right Synonym for malleable

plastic, pliable, pliant, ductile, malleable, adaptable mean susceptible of being modified in form or nature.

plastic applies to substances soft enough to be molded yet capable of hardening into the desired fixed form.

plastic materials allow the sculptor greater freedom

pliable suggests something easily bent, folded, twisted, or manipulated.

pliable rubber tubing

pliant may stress flexibility and sometimes connote springiness.

an athletic shoe with a pliant sole

ductile applies to what can be drawn out or extended with ease.

ductile metals such as copper

malleable applies to what may be pressed or beaten into shape.

the malleable properties of gold

adaptable implies the capability of being easily modified to suit other conditions, needs, or uses.

computer hardware that is adaptable

Example Sentences

The brothers Warner presented a flexible, malleable world that defied Newton, a world of such plasticity that anything imaginable was possible. Billy Collins, Wall Street Journal, 28–29 June 2008
At each landing the villagers had carved the wonderfully malleable silt into staircases, terraces, crenellations, and ziggurats. Kenneth Brower, National Geographic Traveler, March 2000
The boy seemed to me possessed by a blind, invalid arrogance, and every human being, as his eye flicked over or flinched against them, became, immediately, as malleable as his mother and his father. James Baldwin, The Evidence of Things Not Seen, 1985
the cult leader took advantage of the malleable, compliant personalities of his followers
Recent Examples on the Web The ropes are a malleable form, one that shifts according to our own movements. Allison Noelle Conner, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2023 Young’s size and style won’t fit into pre-determined systems, so having malleable young minds around him like OC Bobby Slowik (35 years old, never called plays), and QB coach Jerrod Johnson (34 years old, never full time position coach) is important when building an offense for Young. Stephanie Stradley, Chron, 10 Apr. 2023 Once a spacecraft travels beyond Earth's protective magnetosphere—which orbiting craft like the International Space Station stay well within—there's no real way to dodge these cancer-causing particles, and scientists have yet to find a malleable, lightweight material that can shield against them. Brendan I. Koerner, WIRED, 24 Nov. 2022 Durant is perhaps the single most malleable superstar in the NBA. Bryan Toporek, Forbes, 12 Aug. 2022 According to Jenny Radcliffe, who is hired to mimic cyberattacks for companies, humans are always more malleable than digital barriers. Hannah Zeavin, Harper’s Magazine , 22 June 2022 Bar director Matt Mount, a prolific Portland mixologist, crafts innovative drinks using kombucha and malleable teas. Kristin Scharkey, Sunset Magazine, 14 Apr. 2022 This heart-wrenching yet hopeful debut, long-listed for the 2022 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, uses the 1912 play The Post Office, by the Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore, as a malleable symbol and a tool of political resistance. Carole V. Bell, The Atlantic, 22 Mar. 2022 IceMule Pro Backpack Cooler Pros Floats Light and malleable for storing away Waterproof Cons Sweats in high humidity Beach day-trippers with packed cars will appreciate this collapsible backpack cooler. Casey Clark, Popular Mechanics, 6 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'malleable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English malliable, from Medieval Latin malleabilis, from malleare to hammer, from Latin malleus hammer — more at maul

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of malleable was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near malleable

Cite this Entry

“Malleable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


mal·​lea·​ble ˈmal-ē-ə-bəl How to pronounce malleable (audio)
: capable of being extended or shaped by beating with a hammer or by the pressure of rollers
a malleable metal
: capable of being changed so as to fit new uses or situations : flexible, adaptable
ˌmal-ē-ə-ˈbil-ət-ē How to pronounce malleable (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on malleable

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