trac·​ta·​ble | \ˈtrak-tə-bəl \

Definition of tractable 

1 : capable of being easily led, taught, or controlled : docile a tractable horse

2 : easily handled, managed, or wrought : malleable

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tractable

tractability \ ˌtrak-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
tractableness \ ˈtrak-​tə-​bəl-​nəs \ noun
tractably \ ˈtrak-​tə-​blē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for tractable

obedient, docile, tractable, amenable mean submissive to the will of another. obedient implies compliance with the demands or requests of one in authority. obedient to the government docile implies a predisposition to submit readily to control or guidance. a docile child tractable suggests having a character that permits easy handling or managing. tractable animals amenable suggests a willingness to yield or cooperate because of a desire to be agreeable or because of a natural open-mindedness. amenable to new ideas

Did You Know?

Obedient, docile, and amenable are synonyms of tractable, but those four words have slightly different shades of meaning. Tractable describes an individual whose character permits easy handling, while docile implies a predisposition to submit readily to authority. Obedient is often used to describe compliance with authority, although that compliance is not necessarily offered eagerly. Amenable, on the other hand, is usually used when one cooperates out of a desire to be agreeable. Tractable dates from the early 16th century and derives from the Latin verb tractare ("to handle" or "to treat"). Despite the resemblance, this root did not give us the noun tractor or verbs such as contract or attract-those all derive from a loosely related Latin verb trahere ("to draw or drag").

Examples of tractable in a Sentence

This new approach should make the problem more tractable. He's a very tractable child.

Recent Examples on the Web

On the flip side, a less tractable cat (say, one who growls or hisses when frightened) may scratch and claw her way out of your lap to avoid the procedure. Dr. Rob Sharp, Country Living, "Can I Cut My Cat's Nails at Home?," 10 Mar. 2010 Visionary thought leaders like Gevers, who took Silicon Valley’s monopoly on startup financing to be a more tractable menace than African sheriffs, seemed by comparison exceptionally reasonable. Gideon Lewis-kraus, WIRED, "The Blockchain: A Love Story—And a Horror Story," 18 June 2018 Some techniques, such as selective breeding, are immediately tractable, inexpensive and effective. Rebecca Albright, Scientific American, "Scientists Are Taking Extreme Steps to Help Corals Survive," 1 Jan. 2018 And the film gets plenty of pathos out of Andy’s relationship with Rosie, a generally sweet and tractable kid who’s too young to understand any of what’s going on, but not too young to respond warmly to displays of affection. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Netflix’s Cargo has a few new ideas for the zombie genre," 21 Apr. 2018 Given its capacity for summary violence, the 720S is surreally tractable at low speeds, happy to burble around town in 1st and 2nd gear, the powertrain mode-selector on Comfort, its silencers on maximum. Dan Neil, WSJ, "Why the $285,000 McLaren 720S Is the Shape of Things to Come," 13 July 2017 Then would come the much more tractable and cognizable job of fixing ObamaCare. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "The Result of GOP Failure," 18 July 2017 While many of Europe's problems are relatively tractable, there is one – the greatest challenge facing the region – that can be solved only by a fundamental shift in attitude: the conflict between immigration and national identity. Misha Glenny, WIRED, "How Europe Can Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Future," 1 Feb. 2001 In the aftermath, the government withdrew the list a few weeks after it was announced and has been working with online retailers to come up with a more tractable solution., "A $60 Billion E-Commerce Loophole in China May Be Narrowing," 18 May 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of tractable

1502, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tractable

Latin tractabilis, from tractare to handle, treat

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tractable

Listen to Our Podcast about tractable

Dictionary Entries near tractable








Statistics for tractable

Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tractable

The first known use of tractable was in 1502

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tractable



English Language Learners Definition of tractable

: easily managed or controlled

: willing to learn or be guided by another

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on tractable

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


obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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