sup·ple | \ˈsə-pəl also ˈsü- \
suppler\ˈsə-p(ə-)lər \; supplest\ˈsə-p(ə-)ləst \

Definition of supple 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : compliant often to the point of obsequiousness

b : readily adaptable or responsive to new situations

2a : 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


suppled; suppling\ˈsə-p(ə-)liŋ \

Definition of supple (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to become soft and pliant

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Other Words from supple


supplely \ˈsə-pə(l)-lē \ or supply \ˈsə-p(ə-)lē \ adverb
suppleness \ˈsə-pəl-nəs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for supple

Synonyms: Adjective

bouncy, elastic, flexible, resilient, rubberlike, rubbery, springy, stretch, stretchable, whippy

Antonyms: Adjective

inelastic, inflexible, nonelastic, rigid, stiff

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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


a dome tent outfitted with supple fiberglass tent poles shoes made from supple leather

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Instead, Bell shaped fast-flying figurations to bring forth the melodic shapes underlying the fireworks, Alsop providing a supple orchestral cushion. Howard Reich,, "CSO at Ravinia review: Marin Alsop poetically launches Bernstein tribute," 13 July 2018 The perforated leather seats in the SEL are quite supple and neatly stitched — and more appealing in appearance than most of the competitors. Mark Maynard,, "2019 Volkswagen Jetta: 7th generation wide-body reboot," 6 July 2018 All seats are supple enough for occupants to be comfortable on long road trips. Emma Jayne Williams, star-telegram, "Mazda6 sedan gets a major update for 2018, with more elegance, tech," 29 June 2018 Ultra Durable: American Heritage Perfect Gardener Glove Goatskin is one of the most puncture and abrasion resistant types of leather, while still being super supple and flexible, which makes them perfect for gardening gloves. Stephanie Eckelkamp, Good Housekeeping, "10 Best Gardening Gloves," 12 Apr. 2017 Hyaluronic acid helps skin retain moisture, keeping your lips soft and supple. Eden Univer, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Decadent Liquid Lipstick You'll Be Craving All Season Long," 18 May 2018 Michael Curtiz's direction is supple and intelligent, but what makes the movie is James Cagney's manic blur of a performance. Patrick Friel, Chicago Reader, "Crime / Dance / Film / On Video / Small Screen James Cagney is more than just a tough-guy as FilmStruck's Star of the Week," 3 July 2018 Though best known for their ultrasoft (and ultraexpensive) cashmere, the label’s cotton shirts are equally supple. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "The Chambray Shirt: Why Every Man Needs This All-American Staple," 3 July 2018 Because burrata is this neat, soft and supple pouch of cheese with a delicious surprise inside. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "You just might fall in love with creamy burrata cheese this summer," 17 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of supple


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


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

History and Etymology for 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

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Statistics for supple

Last Updated

3 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for supple

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

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More Definitions for supple



English Language Learners Definition of supple

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

: soft and able to bend or fold easily


sup·ple | \ˈsə-pəl \
suppler\ˈsə-plər \; supplest\ˈsə-pləst \

Kids Definition of supple

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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Comments on supple

What made you want to look up supple? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that holds something together

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