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2017 Word of the Year

supple

[suhp-uh l] /ˈsʌp əl/
adjective, suppler, supplest.
1.
bending readily without breaking or becoming deformed; pliant; flexible:
a supple bough.
2.
characterized by ease in bending; limber; lithe:
supple movements.
3.
characterized by ease, responsiveness, and adaptability in mental action.
4.
compliant or yielding.
5.
obsequious; servile.
verb (used with or without object), suppled, suppling.
6.
to make or become supple.
Origin of supple
1250-1300
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
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for suppleness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The suppleness of the Angora's tail is also a mark of fine breeding.

    Concerning Cats Helen M. Winslow
  • He ran off as if his limbs had regained their youthful strength and suppleness.

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
  • He lacked alike the sagacity, the foresight, and the suppleness of Leopold.

    William Pitt and the Great War John Holland Rose
  • During this operation the skin had dried, and consequently lost its suppleness.

    Practical Taxidermy Montagu Browne
  • She had caught a glimpse of Wilfrid's suppleness and selfishness.

    Sandra Belloni, Complete George Meredith
  • In adroit resource and suppleness no diplomatist could match him.

    Horace

    William Tuckwell
  • I have admired your suppleness and your aptitude to enter into the soul of all the talents.

    Charles Baudelaire, His Life Thophile Gautier
  • It must have possessed some suppleness, which was probably an advantage in a stormy sea.

British Dictionary definitions for suppleness

supple

/ˈsʌpəl/
adjective
1.
bending easily without damage
2.
capable of or showing easy or graceful movement; lithe
3.
mentally flexible; responding readily
4.
disposed to agree, sometimes to the point of servility
verb
5.
(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 suppleness

supple

adj.

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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