discipline

1 of 2

noun

dis·​ci·​pline ˈdi-sə-plən How to pronounce discipline (audio)
1
a
: control gained by enforcing obedience or order
b
: orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
2
3
: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
4
: a field of study
5
: a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity
6
obsolete : instruction
disciplinal adjective

discipline

2 of 2

verb

disciplined; disciplining

transitive verb

1
: to punish or penalize for the sake of enforcing obedience and perfecting moral character
2
: to train or develop by instruction and exercise especially in self-control
3
a
: to bring (a group) under control
discipline troops
b
: to impose order upon
serious writers discipline and refine their writing styles
discipliner noun

Did you know?

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.

Choose the Right Synonym for discipline

punish, chastise, castigate, chasten, discipline, correct mean to inflict a penalty on in requital for wrongdoing.

punish implies subjecting to a penalty for wrongdoing.

punished for stealing

chastise may apply to either the infliction of corporal punishment or to verbal censure or denunciation.

chastised his son for neglecting his studies

castigate usually implies a severe, typically public censure.

an editorial castigating the entire city council

chasten suggests any affliction or trial that leaves one humbled or subdued.

chastened by a landslide election defeat

discipline implies a punishing or chastening in order to bring under control.

parents must discipline their children

correct implies punishing aimed at reforming an offender.

the function of prison is to correct the wrongdoer

teach, instruct, educate, train, discipline, school mean to cause to acquire knowledge or skill.

teach applies to any manner of imparting information or skill so that others may learn.

taught us a lot about our planet

instruct suggests methodical or formal teaching.

instructs raw recruits in military drill

educate implies development of the mind.

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

Example Sentences

Noun Sir 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 2007 Pragmatism 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 2007 So 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) 2005 He 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. Verb The 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. 2006 Volunteers have to undergo a program to discipline the mind and cleanse the soul. Aparism Ghosh, Time, 4 July 2005 The 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
Noun
Arzeno said Ritter seems committed to fiscal discipline. Mark Pazniokas, Hartford Courant, 27 Nov. 2022 Those who break the rules are subject to discipline, including expulsion. Courtney Tanner, The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 Nov. 2022 The league reviewed the matter this week and was satisfied with the discipline administered by the club, and there will be no further action taken by the NFL. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, 19 Nov. 2022 Will the Jaguars play with more discipline this time? Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, 11 Nov. 2022 But with discipline and trust in the huge traction, the Performante felt much more agile than anything this size and shape has a right to. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 17 Oct. 2022 The defense needs to be better at the point of attack and the linebackers need to play with better eye discipline so they’re not gashed on quarterback bootlegs. Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune, 5 Oct. 2022 Leonard’s rehab from knee surgery was a model for how to work with discipline, Frank said. Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times, 26 Sep. 2022 In this two-hour lecture and workshop, the discussion will center on strategies for getting you into your seat, how to combine playfulness with discipline and the three components necessary for a writing career. cleveland, 2 Sep. 2022
Verb
The decision whether and how to discipline Jones and any of the other officers now rests with Moore. Libor Janystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov. 2022 In 2019, during a KUWTK episode from season 7, Scott Disick, Kourtney Kardashian and Gamble got into a screaming match over their opinions on how to discipline Disick's daughter Penelope. Diane J. Cho, Peoplemag, 18 Aug. 2022 The clash could force the House to determine how to discipline defiant members, experts say. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, 9 May 2022 Moreover, you are expected to discipline students in accordance with board policy and without endangering their health and welfare. Michael Wetzel The Decatur Daily, al, 12 Apr. 2022 The Texas state bar has also brought a lawsuit seeking to discipline Paxton for allegedly misleading the U.S. Supreme Court in his suit seeking to challenge Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. Jake Bleiberg, ajc, 27 Sep. 2022 The Texas state bar has also brought a lawsuit seeking to discipline Paxton for allegedly misleading the U.S. Supreme Court in his suit seeking to challenge President Biden's victory in the 2020 election. CBS News, 27 Sep. 2022 The team’s subsequent decision to remove Smith from the PUP list was a method of punching back and exercising leverage with an opening created to discipline Smith for declining to practice while healthy. Dan Wiederer, Chicago Tribune, 20 Aug. 2022 Pope and Code are also suing the city of Minneapolis for refusing to discipline Chauvin for his pattern and practice of misconduct, ABC News reported. Ashlee Banks, Essence, 1 June 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

Verb

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"

First Known Use

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of discipline was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near discipline

Cite this Entry

“Discipline.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discipline. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

discipline 1 of 2

noun

dis·​ci·​pline ˈdis-ə-plən How to pronounce discipline (audio)
1
: a field of study : subject
2
: strict training that corrects or strengthens mental ability or moral character
3
4
: control gained by enforcing obedience or order
trying to maintain discipline
5
: a system of rules governing conduct

discipline

2 of 2

verb

disciplined; disciplining
1
: to punish or penalize for the sake of discipline
2
: to train or develop by instruction and exercise especially in self-control
3
: to bring under control
discipline troops
discipliner noun

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