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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
  • 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.


    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


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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