1

supple

adjective sup·ple \ ˈsə-pəl also ˈsü- \

Definition of supple

suppler play \-p(ə-)lər\; supplest play \-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

supplely

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

suppleness

play \-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

2

supple

verb

Definition of supple

suppled; suppling play \-p(ə-)liŋ\
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

First Known Use of supple

14th century



SUPPLE Defined for English Language Learners

supple

adjective

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

supple

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


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to suppress quietly or indirectly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!