pli·​able ˈplī-ə-bəl How to pronounce pliable (audio)
: supple enough to bend freely or repeatedly without breaking
: yielding readily to others : complaisant
: adjustable to varying conditions
pliability noun
pliableness noun
pliably adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for pliable

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

Because the leather is pliable, it's easy to work with. She sometimes takes advantage of her pliable parents.
Recent Examples on the Web Most beard balms contain wax, but this one stays pliable without being sticky, thanks to carnauba wax instead of the traditional beeswax. Cristina Montemayor, Men's Health, 11 Jan. 2023 The Bridgestone Blizzak LM005 is designed for winter performance driving, with high siping density and a rubber compound that remains pliable at sub-zero temperatures. Dan Neil, WSJ, 21 Nov. 2022 Soft, pliable and mildly sweet, they can be stuffed without having to be charred and peeled. Rick A. Martínez, New York Times, 6 Oct. 2022 And my mind seems more pliable, ready to ask better questions and process more complicated information. Grayson Haver Currin, Outside Online, 30 Dec. 2022 Chilaquiles are a matter of much debate among the gastronomic set, with some wanting their tortillas crisp and others more pliable. Gary Shteyngart, Condé Nast Traveler, 23 Dec. 2022 Give it at least 24 hours for the exterior to become pliable, then season away and return the bird to the fridge. Julie Harans, Bon Appétit, 5 Oct. 2022 This makes those ridges pliable and flattens them out, putting more skin in contact with the glass and creating more friction. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 25 Sep. 2017 For serving Soak the corn husks: In a very large bowl, soak the corn husks in very hot water for at least 10 minutes, or until soft and pliable; then pour off the water. Pati Jinich, Washington Post, 13 Dec. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, from plier "to fold, bend" + -able -able — more at ply entry 3

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near pliable

Cite this Entry

“Pliable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


pli·​able ˈplī-ə-bəl How to pronounce pliable (audio)
: possible to bend without breaking
: easily influenced
pliability noun

More from Merriam-Webster on pliable

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