plac·​id ˈpla-səd How to pronounce placid (audio)
: serenely free of interruption or disturbance
placid skies
a placid disposition
placidity noun
placidly adverb
placidness noun

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What is the Difference Between placid, calm, tranquil, and serene?

Like placid, the words calm, tranquil, and serene all mean "quiet and free from disturbance." Calm conveys a quiet composure that contrasts with surrounding chaos, while tranquil suggests a very deep quietude and peace. Serene is loftier still, carrying a sense of utter peace and happiness. Though placid traces back to Latin placēre, meaning "to please," it isn't always as positive a term as its synonyms. It can imply a lack of agitation rather than a true peace, and it sometimes suggests excessive self-satisfaction or even stupidity.

Choose the Right Synonym for placid

calm, tranquil, serene, placid, peaceful mean quiet and free from disturbance.

calm often implies a contrast with a foregoing or nearby state of agitation or violence.

the protests ended, and the streets were calm again

tranquil suggests a very deep quietude or composure.

the tranquil beauty of a formal garden

serene stresses an unclouded and lofty tranquility.

watched the sunset of a serene summer's evening

placid suggests an undisturbed appearance and often implies a degree of complacency.

remained placid despite the criticism

peaceful implies a state of repose in contrast with or following strife or turmoil.

grown peaceful in old age

Examples of placid in a Sentence

a person with a sunny, placid disposition the placid surface of the lake
Recent Examples on the Web But 11 months into a relatively placid first year, the indefinite closure of a vital piece of civic infrastructure presents a new, potentially thorny challenge for the mayor. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2023 But though the tempo of her music was fast, the vibe was placid. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 10 Nov. 2023 Bond yields, the hottest ticket in town for several weeks, drifted downward gently, and stocks overall were placid. WSJ, 9 Nov. 2023 Interestingly, despite its lethal venom, this snake is known for its generally placid disposition toward humans. Jake Parks, Discover Magazine, 7 Nov. 2023 Co-produced by Spain’s RTVE and TV3 with Sweden’s SVT, Germany’s NDR and Finland’s YLE, the eight-part comedy is set in a swish upper middle-class community in the placid hills outside Barcelona. Liza Foreman, Variety, 18 Oct. 2023 While things were comparatively placid over the holiday weekend, at least publicly, three noteworthy critics of the deal have emerged. Michael Tomasky, The New Republic, 30 May 2023 Tiny spots of bright, white light speckling a jet black field suggest a placid night sky. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 20 Oct. 2023 When thirsty animals approached, the speakers played one of several sounds: the snarls and growls of a lion pride, the placid chatter of human conversation, gunshots, dog barks, or birdsong. Ross Andersen, The Atlantic, 16 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin placidus, from placēre to please — more at please

First Known Use

1626, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of placid was in 1626


Dictionary Entries Near placid

Cite this Entry

“Placid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


plac·​id ˈplas-əd How to pronounce placid (audio)
: peacefully free of interruption or disturbance : peaceful, calm
a placid disposition
placidity noun
placidly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on placid

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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