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[suhp-uh l] /ˈsʌp əl/
adjective, suppler, supplest.
bending readily without breaking or becoming deformed; pliant; flexible:
a supple bough.
characterized by ease in bending; limber; lithe:
supple movements.
characterized by ease, responsiveness, and adaptability in mental action.
compliant or yielding.
obsequious; servile.
verb (used with or without object), suppled, suppling.
to make or become supple.
Origin of supple
1250-1300; (adj.) Middle English souple flexible, compliant < Old French: soft, yielding, lithe < Latin supplic- (stem of supplex) submissive, suppliant, equivalent to sup- sup- + -plic-, variously explained as akin to plicāre to fold1, bend (thus meaning “bent over”; cf. complex), or to plācāre to placate1 (thus meaning “in the attitude of a suppliant”); (v.) Middle English supplen to soften, derivative of the noun (compare Old French asoplir)
Related forms
suppleness, noun
unsupple, adjective
unsuppleness, noun
unsupply, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for supple
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I ought to be supple enough after the practice of these three days.

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • Year by year she grew, a brown-faced cherub, strong-limbed and supple.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • And never before had she seemed to him so supple and so strong.

  • Her wet garment outlined her supple figure and her high bosom.

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
  • I bent over to her rapidly and threw my arm around her supple waist.

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
  • He had the classic style, accurate, evenly balanced, and supple.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • How straight and supple she was, yet how dainty and slight withal!

    Bardelys the Magnificent Rafael Sabatini
  • While the limbs are still soft and supple they trail full length on the ground.

    The Sportsman Xenophon
British Dictionary definitions for supple


bending easily without damage
capable of or showing easy or graceful movement; lithe
mentally flexible; responding readily
disposed to agree, sometimes to the point of servility
(rare) to make or become supple
Derived Forms
suppleness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French souple, from Latin supplex bowed
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 supple

c.1300, from Old French souple "pliant, flexible," from Gallo-Romance *supples, from Latin supplex (genitive supplicis) "submissive, humbly begging," literally "bending, kneeling down," thought to be an altered form of *supplacos "humbly pleading, appeasing," from sub "under" + placare "appease" (see placate).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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