adjective sup·ple \ ˈsə-pəl also ˈsü- \
|Updated on: 8 Aug 2018

Definition of supple

suppler play \ˈsə-p(ə-)lər\; supplest play \ˈsə-p(ə-)ləst\
1 a : compliant often to the point of obsequiousness
b : readily adaptable or responsive to new situations
2 a : capable of being bent or folded without creases, cracks, or breaks : pliant
  • supple leather
b : able to perform bending or twisting movements with ease : limber
  • supple legs of a dancer
c : easy and fluent without stiffness or awkwardness
  • sang with a lively, supple voice
  • —Douglas Watt


play \ˈsə-pə(l)-lē\ or supply play \ˈsə-p(ə-)lē\ adverb


play \ˈsə-pəl-nəs\ noun

Examples of supple in a Sentence

  1. a dome tent outfitted with supple fiberglass tent poles

  2. shoes made from supple leather

Recent Examples of supple from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of supple

Middle English souple, from Anglo-French suple, from Latin supplic-, supplex entreating for mercy, supplicant, perhaps from sub- + -plic- (akin to plicare to fold) — more at ply

Synonym Discussion of supple

elastic, resilient, springy, flexible, supple mean able to endure strain without being permanently injured. elastic implies the property of resisting deformation by stretching.
    • an elastic waistband
resilient implies the ability to recover shape quickly when the deforming force or pressure is removed.
    • a resilient innersole
springy stresses both the ease with which something yields to pressure and the quickness of its return to original shape.
    • the cake is done when the top is springy
flexible applies to something which may or may not be resilient or elastic but which can be bent or folded without breaking.
    • flexible plastic tubing
supple applies to something that can be readily bent, twisted, or folded without any sign of injury.
    • supple leather




Definition of supple

suppled; suppling play \ˈsə-p(ə-)liŋ\
1 : to make pacific or complaisant
  • supple the tempers of your race
  • —Laurence Sterne
2 : to alleviate with a salve
3 : to make flexible or pliant
: to become soft and pliant

First Known Use of supple

14th century

in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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SUPPLE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of supple for English Language Learners

  • of a body or body part : able to bend or twist easily

  • : soft and able to bend or fold easily

SUPPLE Defined for Kids


adjective sup·ple \ ˈsə-pəl \

Definition of supple for Students

suppler \ˈsə-plər\; supplest \ˈsə-pləst\
1 : capable of bending or of being bent easily without stiffness, creases, or damage
  • a supple body
  • supple leather
2 : adaptable
  • a supple mind

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very hard to disturb or upset

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