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The Root and Meanings of Discipline
Discipline comes from discipulus, the Latin word for pupil, which also provided the source of the word disciple (albeit by way of a Late Latin sense-shift to “a follower of Jesus Christ in his lifetime”). Given that several meanings of discipline deal with study, governing one’s behavior, and instruction, one might assume that the word’s first meaning in English had to do with education.
In fact, the earliest known use of discipline appears to be punishment-related; it first was used in the 13th century to refer to chastisement of a religious nature, such as self-flagellation.
more things than formal schooling serve to educate a person
train stresses instruction and drill with a specific end in view.
trained foreign pilots to operate the new aircraft
discipline implies training in habits of order and precision.
a disciplined mind
school implies training or disciplining especially in what is hard to master.
schooled the horse in five gaits
Examples of discipline in a Sentence
NounSir Robert Peel is credited with creating the first modern police force, the bobbies, in London, in 1829, but the transformation of law enforcement, and especially forensic science, into a professional discipline was a haphazard affair.—Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker, 7 May 2007Pragmatism became America's most important contribution to the life of the mind in the 20th century. Filtered through scores of later interpreters, it percolated across a broad segment of academic culture and influenced disciplines as diverse as literary criticism and legal theory.—Theo Anderson, Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2007So the next fall I went to Hampshire College and began studying under Herbert Bernstein. Without him, I would never have become a scientist. He shamed me into doing the hard work necessary to be able not just to talk about math and physics but to calculate. Without that discipline, my story would have been very different …—Lee Smolin, Curious Minds, (2004) 2005He stood erect, his bearing patrician, his dress impeccable. His face was stern and his pale eyes unsmiling behind his trifocals, like a man who had been called from important duties in the principal's office to administer discipline to an unruly classroom.—Nick Taylor, Laser, 2000
The teacher has a hard time maintaining discipline in the classroom.
The troops were praised for their dedication and discipline.
Some parents feel that the school's principal has been too harsh in meting out discipline.
Keeping a journal is a good discipline for a writer. VerbThe Army disciplined seven men for the incident, penalties ranging from pay-cuts and loss of rank to dismissal from the Rangers and return to the rank-and-file Army.—Gary Smith, Sports Illustrated, 11 Sept. 2006Volunteers have to undergo a program to discipline the mind and cleanse the soul.—Aparism Ghosh, Time, 4 July 2005The teacher then took me to the principal's office. There, the principal attempted to discipline me with an old Catholic school technique called "paddling" …—Lalo Gomez, Undoing Time, 2001
She was disciplined for misbehaving in class.
He seems unwilling or unable to discipline his children.
I'm trying to discipline myself to eat less. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
The initiative allows people across different theoretical disciplines (from string theory to quantum gravity to mathematical physics) to communicate and collaborate.—Swapna Krishna, WIRED, 28 Nov. 2023 Rather than silver bullets, management needs to return to its roots and the core disciplines that made the company great in the first place.—Cassandra Frangos, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 The Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco, a national cultural scientific reference institution, has consulted several experts from different disciplines on how using traditional materials to rebuild can help preserve Morocco’s heritage.—Aida Alami, New York Times, 19 Nov. 2023 Keen on fiscal discipline, Medina aims to post a budget surplus of 0.8% of gross domestic product this year, which would be the biggest in Portugal's last five decades as a democracy.—Joao Lima and Henrique Almeida Bloomberg News (tns), arkansasonline.com, 13 Nov. 2023 In pursuit of innovative solutions to the most pressing problems facing society, Japanese universities have pushed the boundaries of knowledge across various disciplines, from technology to healthcare, thanks to close partnerships with government, industry and other educational institutions.—Foreign Affairs, 9 Nov. 2023 Networking with engineers from different disciplines Madni has been an IEEE member for 46 years.—IEEE Spectrum, 9 Nov. 2023 Released after serving fewer than eight years, Scott went to live with an uncle in Delaware who got him a series of jobs and enforced strict discipline.—Gregory S. Schneider, Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2023 There is a discipline to her approach and not wearing logos was one of them.—Hedy Phillips, Peoplemag, 6 Nov. 2023
According to the publication, the priest was disciplined just days after Carpenter released the visual.—Ilana Kaplan, Peoplemag, 27 Nov. 2023 Six Capitol Police officers, out of a force of 2,000, were disciplined for their actions during the Jan. 6 riot, including for unbecoming conduct and failure to comply with directives.—Angelo Fichera, New York Times, 23 Nov. 2023 Introverted, disciplined, and determined, Mariel has to choose between Olympic greatness, or healing her painful past.—William Earl, Variety, 21 Nov. 2023 Dozens of complaints were filed against him, Sawyer told me, but the officer was never disciplined.—Eyal Press, The New Yorker, 13 Nov. 2023 Jeffrey Sachs, a scholar who tracks faculty terminations, found that between 2015 and 2016, vastly more faculty were disciplined for left-wing speech than for right-wing speech.—Samuel Clowes Huneke, The New Republic, 26 Oct. 2023 None of the judges involved in the episode was disciplined.—Anat Rubin, ProPublica, 4 Nov. 2023 If the commission finds there are grounds for an attorney to be disciplined, the case is sent to the state Supreme Court for a final determination of misconduct.—María Luisa Paúl, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2023 Firms are taking note of the regulatory pressure and trying to get ahead of potential fines by disciplining noncompliant staff.—Mengqi Sun, WSJ, 31 Oct. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'discipline.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Middle English, "chastisement, system of ordered conduct, instruction, branch of learning," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin disciplīna "teaching, instruction, branch of study, orderly conduct based on moral training" (Medieval Latin, "chastisement, scourging"), from discipulus "pupil, learner" + -īna, suffix denoting a place or practice (from noun derivative of feminine of -īnus-ine entry 1) — more at disciple
Middle English disciplinen "to subject to chastisement, educate," borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French discipliner, borrowed from Late Latin disciplīnāre "to teach" (Medieval Latin, "to punish, scourge"), derivative of Latin disciplīna "teaching, discipline entry 1"