su·​pine | \ su̇-ˈpīn How to pronounce supine (audio) , attrib also ˈsü-ˌpīn\

Definition of supine

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : lying on the back or with the face upward
b : marked by supination
2 : exhibiting indolent or apathetic inertia or passivity especially : mentally or morally slack
3 archaic : leaning or sloping backward


su·​pine | \ ˈsü-ˌpīn How to pronounce supine (audio) \

Definition of supine (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a Latin verbal noun having an accusative of purpose in -um and an ablative of specification in -u
2 : an English infinitive with to

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Other Words from supine


supinely \ su̇-​ˈpīn-​lē How to pronounce supinely (audio) \ adverb
supineness \ su̇-​ˈpīn-​nəs How to pronounce supineness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for supine


prone, supine, prostrate, recumbent mean lying down. prone implies a position with the front of the body turned toward the supporting surface. push-ups require a prone position supine implies lying on one's back and suggests inertness or abjectness. lying supine on the couch prostrate implies lying full-length as in submission, defeat, or physical collapse. a runner fell prostrate at the finish line recumbent implies the posture of one sleeping or resting. a patient comfortably recumbent in a hospital bed

inactive, idle, inert, passive, supine mean not engaged in work or activity. inactive applies to anyone or anything not in action or in operation or at work. on inactive status as an astronaut inactive accounts idle applies to persons that are not busy or occupied or to their powers or their implements. workers were idle in the fields inert as applied to things implies powerlessness to move or to affect other things; as applied to persons it suggests an inherent or habitual indisposition to activity. inert ingredients in drugs an inert citizenry passive implies immobility or lack of normally expected response to an external force or influence and often suggests deliberate submissiveness or self-control. passive resistance supine applies only to persons and commonly implies abjectness or indolence. a supine willingness to play the fool

The Difference Between Prone, Supine, and Prostrate


In literal use, prone and supine indicate contrasting positions of the body: a person lying prone is facing downward while a person lying supine is face up.

Both prone and supine also have meanings that have nothing to do with physical position. Supine, in keeping with the image of one lying comfortably idle, can be applied to those who are willing to be controlled by others, or who show mental or moral slackness, as in "supine obedience" or "supine inaction."

Prone is used in the sense of "having a tendency or inclination," as in "prone to worry" or "accident-prone." This usage is similar to such words as apt, liable, or likely (as in "apt to be late"), but in many instances prone implies a vulnerability to attack or damaging influence, in keeping with the image of one lying face down and unable to see what is approaching.

The word prostrate too has meanings to do with body position. It is used with the very specific meaning of "stretched out with face on the ground in adoration or submission," but is also used simply to mean "lying flat." In figurative use, prostrate means "completely overcome and lacking vitality, will, or power to rise," as in "prostrate in fear."

So while prone, supine, and prostrate have specific meanings with regard to body position, they also come with situational connotations in many cases: prone suggests exposure or vulnerability; supine connotes a position of weakness or passivity; and prostrate implies submission in the face of being overcome.

Examples of supine in a Sentence


He was lying supine on the couch. a supine legislature that is afraid to take action

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The talk is of overhauling a supine judiciary and strengthening parliamentary oversight. The Economist, "At last, a cause to unite all Malaysia’s ethnic groups," 17 May 2018 Reinforcing this one-term assumption is the remarkable number of Republicans who will not commit to supporting Trump’s reelection, despite the GOP’s largely supine surrender to his takeover of their party. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "History Says Trump Has a Difficult But Traversable Path to Reelection," 19 Apr. 2018 There are countless variations of supine twists which can be supported with props in many variations. Justicia Declue,, "Take time for yourself with this restorative yoga practice," 28 Feb. 2018 Antitrust authorities have become more supine: between 1970 and 1999, regulators brought an average of 16 cases a year in order to prevent big firms from becoming even bigger; between 2000 and 2014, that number fell below three. The Economist, "Should regulators block CVS from buying Aetna?," 4 Nov. 2017 Lie supine on a bolster or large pillow so that your entire back, shoulders, neck and head are supported. Dana Santas, CNN, "Recovering from surgery or stress? Yoga can help," 19 Sep. 2017 Together, the congregants pray over Benny, who’s lain supine on the altar on a simple cloth. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, "Review: Faith Found and Lost in ‘Free in Deed’," 31 Aug. 2017 At one point, Delilah wanders over to a supine Sybert and attempts to snack on her ponytail. Danielle Ohl,, "Goat yoga gains popularity in Bel Air," 25 Aug. 2017 Start in a supine position with your left leg bent and your right leg extended., "Build your booty without doing a single squat or lunge," 5 July 2017

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

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First Known Use of supine


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for supine


Middle English suppyne, from Latin supinus; akin to Latin sub under, up to — more at up


Middle English supyn, from Late Latin supinum, from Latin, neuter of supinus, adjective

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The first known use of supine was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of supine

: lying on your back with your face upward
disapproving : willing to be controlled by others : weak or passive


su·​pine | \ su̇-ˈpīn How to pronounce supine (audio) , ˈsü-ˌpīn How to pronounce supine (audio) \

Medical Definition of supine

1 : lying on the back or with the face upward
2 : marked by supination

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More from Merriam-Webster on supine

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with supine

Spanish Central: Translation of supine

Nglish: Translation of supine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of supine for Arabic Speakers

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behavior toward others

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