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sup·​ple ˈsə-pəl How to pronounce supple (audio)
 also  ˈsü-
: compliant often to the point of obsequiousness
: readily adaptable or responsive to new situations
: capable of being bent or folded without creases, cracks, or breaks : pliant
supple leather
: able to perform bending or twisting movements with ease : limber
supple legs of a dancer
: easy and fluent without stiffness or awkwardness
sang with a lively, supple voiceDouglas Watt
supplely adverb
or supply
suppleness noun


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suppled; suppling ˈsə-p(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce supple (audio)

transitive verb

: to make pacific or complaisant
supple the tempers of your raceLaurence Sterne
: to alleviate with a salve
: to make flexible or pliant

intransitive verb

: to become soft and pliant
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of supple in a Sentence

Adjective a dome tent outfitted with supple fiberglass tent poles shoes made from supple leather
Recent Examples on the Web
Other manufacturers offer chairs with dense foam, supple faux leather, interesting designs, or useful features. PCMAG, 26 Jan. 2024 Exceptionally lightweight, this quick-drying oil speeds up your self-care routine but still yields soft, supple skin. Brigitt Earley, Allure, 28 Feb. 2024 Available in eight colors and three sizes, the sleek bag is constructed with supple Italian pebbled leather and features a removable and adjustable crossbody strap, an internal pocket, and a snap closure. Lauren Dana Ellman, Condé Nast Traveler, 29 Feb. 2024 Simply lather it on before bed and wake up to a soft and supple pout. Clara McMahon, Peoplemag, 8 Dec. 2023 Exfoliate the body Incorporating a good body polish into your routine will result in soft, supple skin. Samantha Mims, Essence, 6 Dec. 2023 The formula rounds out with a dose of hyaluronic acid, which restores hydration to even the thinnest of skin and boosts collagen production for plumper, more supple skin. Alyssa Brascia, Peoplemag, 10 Oct. 2023 The combination of turmeric, ginger, and pineapple extract helps to stimulate internal collagen production for naturally supple skin from within. 7. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 12 July 2023 The soft, supple leather has rave reviews, and as a bonus for light packers, the mix of leather and elastic allows for a little less weight when tucking away these boots in a suitcase. Nneya Richards, Travel + Leisure, 28 Sep. 2023
For a slightly more elevated and edgy look, snag a sleek vest made with smooth and supple vegan suede or faux leather. Lauren Dana Ellman, Condé Nast Traveler, 17 Jan. 2024 Thin Bifold Wallet belies its reasonable price point with noticeably supple full-grain leather, a trim sub-0.75-inch profile and precise stitching. New York Times, 1 Nov. 2023 Advertisement - Continue Reading Below 7 Beauty Classic Fresh® Rose Hydration Pore-Minimizing Mist $25 at Nordstrom Pros Smells lovely Cons Soften skin and keep it supple with this OG hydrating hero. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, 26 June 2023 Concertmaster Jonathan Carney was also a highlight, arresting in sound and presence, and key to suppling the urbane wit of the second dance. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 5 May 2023

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

Word History



Middle English souple, suple, supple "obedient, compliant, flexible, relaxed," borrowed from Anglo-French, "submissive, suppliant, light (of wind), soft, yielding" (continental Old French sople), going back to Latin supplic-, supplex "making humble entreaty, suppliant," probably from sub- sub- + -plic-, from the stem of plicāre "to fold, bend" — more at ply entry 3

Note: Old French so(u)ple belongs to a group of words in which loss of an unstressed penultimate vowel in Gallo-Romance was hindered by a preceding consonant cluster. So, in Pierre Fouché's notation, supplice(m) became *sopletse, then *soplets, and with deletion of the final consonants, sople (see Phonétique historique du français, vol. 3 [Paris, 1966], p. 472). Compare prince. — The -plic- of supplex has also been taken as based on placēre "to be pleasing, find favor" and plācāre "to make favorably disposed, placate," though this seems less likely on derivational and semantic grounds, and for plācāre impossible, given the long a.


Middle English souplen, supplen "to make humble, make flexible, soften," derivative of souple "obedient, compliant, supple entry 1"

First Known Use


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


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near supple

Cite this Entry

“Supple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
sup·​ple ˈsəp-əl How to pronounce supple (audio)
: readily adaptable to new situations
a supple mind
: capable of being bent without creases or breaks : pliant
supple leather
: able to bend or twist with ease : limber
the supple legs of a dancer
suppleness noun


2 of 2 verb
suppled; suppling ˈsəp-(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce supple (audio)
: to make soft and easy to bend

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