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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for suppleness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was slim, with a fair and carefully tended beard, blue eyes and all the suppleness of youth.

  • He ran off as if his limbs had regained their youthful strength and suppleness.

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
  • He was a little stiff in the joints and moved rather slowly, but what was wanting in suppleness was certainly made up in dignity.

    Phineas Redux Anthony Trollope
  • He lacked alike the sagacity, the foresight, and the suppleness of Leopold.

    William Pitt and the Great War John Holland Rose
  • But to return to Lelio Torelli; he had succeeded wonderfully in all the exercises that require strength and suppleness of limb.

    Isabella Orsini Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi
  • In adroit resource and suppleness no diplomatist could match him.

    Horace William Tuckwell
  • I had noted her strength and suppleness of limb the very first day I had seen her; and she gave marvellous proof of it now.

    A Heroine of France Evelyn Everett-Green
  • On either side there was an equality of strength, agility, and suppleness.

    The Thirteen Honore de Balzac
British Dictionary definitions for suppleness


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 suppleness



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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