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[plahy-uh nt] /ˈplaɪ ənt/
bending readily; flexible; supple; adaptable:
She manipulated the pliant clay.
easily influenced; yielding to others; compliant:
He has a pliant nature.
Origin of pliant
1300-50; Middle English < Old French, present participle of plier to ply2; see -ant
Related forms
pliancy, pliantness, noun
pliantly, adverb
nonpliancy, noun
nonpliant, adjective
nonpliantly, adverb
nonpliantness, noun
unpliancy, noun
unpliant, adjective
unpliantly, adverb
unpliantness, noun
1, 2. pliable, flexile. See flexible. 2. manageable, tractable, docile. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pliant
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • So slight, yet so round, so trim, yet so pliant—she was grace itself.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
  • The pileus is thin, pliant when fresh but somewhat brittle when dry.

  • Unhappily I am not a Greek woman, pliant to the whims of artists and voluptuaries.

    King Candaules Thophile Gautier
  • Bend to the earth our pliant knees, And speak—but as our masters please?

    The Liberty Minstrel George W. Clark
  • The atmosphere that surrounds us is so often treacherous to our pliant natures!

    The Choice of Life

    Georgette Leblanc
  • Not merely tall, but pliant, elastic, and graceful in no ordinary degree.

    Honor O'callaghan Mary Russell Mitford
  • Who flies me with pliant oars, flies overbounding the sea-depths?

    The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus Caius Valerius Catullus
British Dictionary definitions for pliant


easily bent; supple: a pliant young tree
easily modified; adaptable; flexible: a pliant system
yielding readily to influence; compliant
Derived Forms
pliancy, pliantness, noun
pliantly, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from plier to fold, bend; see ply²
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pliant

late 14c., from Old French ploiant "bending, supple; compliant, fickle," as a noun, "turncoat" (13c.), present participle of ploier "to bend" (see ply (n.)). Figurative sense of "easily influenced" is from c.1400. Related: Pliancy.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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