adjective mal·lea·ble \ ˈma-lē-ə-bəl , ˈmal-yə-bəl , ˈma-lə-bəl \
|Updated on: 10 Aug 2018

Definition of malleable

1 : capable of being extended or shaped by beating with a hammer or by the pressure of rollers
2 a : capable of being altered or controlled by outside forces or influences
b : having a capacity for adaptive change


play \ˌma-lē-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē, ˌmal-yə-, ˌma-lə-\ noun

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Examples of malleable in a Sentence

  1. The brothers Warner presented a flexible, malleable world that defied Newton, a world of such plasticity that anything imaginable was possible. —Billy CollinsWall Street Journal28–29 June 2008
  2. At each landing the villagers had carved the wonderfully malleable silt into staircases, terraces, crenellations, and ziggurats. —Kenneth BrowerNational Geographic TravelerMarch 2000
  3. 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 BaldwinThe Evidence of Things Not Seen1985
  4. the cult leader took advantage of the malleable, compliant personalities of his followers

Recent Examples of malleable from the Web

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

Did You Know?

There is a hint about the origins of "malleable" in its first definition. The earliest uses of the word, which first appeared in English in the 14th century, referred primarily to metals that could be reshaped by beating with a hammer. The Middle English word malliable comes to us from Medieval Latin malleabilis, which in turn derives from the Latin verb malleare, meaning "to hammer." "Malleare" itself was created from the Latin word for "hammer": "malleus." If you have guessed that "maul" and "mallet," other English words for specific types of hammers, can also be traced back to "malleus," you have hit the nail on the head.

Origin and Etymology of malleable

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

Other Metals and Metallurgy Terms

MALLEABLE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of malleable for English Language Learners

  • : capable of being stretched or bent into different shapes

  • : capable of being easily changed or influenced

MALLEABLE Defined for Kids


adjective mal·lea·ble \ ˈma-lē-ə-bəl , ˈmal-yə-bəl \

Definition of malleable for Students

: capable of being extended or shaped with blows from a hammer

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having an air of easy unconcern

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