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 formspli·an·cy, pli·ant·ness, nounpli·ant·ly, adverbnon·pli·an·cy, nounnon·pli·ant, adjectivenon·pli·ant·ly, adverbnon·pli·ant·ness, nounun·pli·an·cy, nounun·pli·ant, adjectiveun·pli·ant·ly, adverbun·pli·ant·ness, noun

Synonyms for pliant

1, 2. pliable, flexile. See flexible. 2. manageable, tractable, docile. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pliant

Contemporary Examples of pliant

  • The ad reminds readers that there is no income tax in Texas, that the state has budget surpluses and “pliant labor laws.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Texas Calls All Gun-Toting Yanks

    David Freedlander

    January 16, 2013

  • Bank bosses who refused were simply replaced with pliant sycophants.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Hold Onto Your Penis

    David Frum, Justin Green

    November 29, 2012

  • He called that pliant decision the biggest mistake of his presidency.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Speed Read: The Clinton Tapes

    The Daily Beast

    September 29, 2009

Historical Examples of pliant

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for pliant



easily bent; supplea pliant young tree
easily modified; adaptable; flexiblea pliant system
yielding readily to influence; compliant
Derived Formspliancy or pliantness, nounpliantly, adverb

Word Origin for pliant

C14: from Old French, from plier to fold, bend; see ply ²
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

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