• synonyms


[suhp-uh l]
See more synonyms for supple on Thesaurus.com
adjective, sup·pler, sup·plest.
  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.
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verb (used with or without object), sup·pled, sup·pling.
  1. to make or become supple.
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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 formssup·ple·ness, nounun·sup·ple, adjectiveun·sup·ple·ness, nounun·sup·p·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for suppleness

resiliency, pliability, affability, plasticity, give, spring, pliancy, elasticity, bounce, complaisance, tractability, springiness, malleability, compliance, ductility, resilience, docility, flaccidity, adjustability, extensibility

Examples from the Web for suppleness

Contemporary Examples of suppleness

Historical Examples of suppleness

  • 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.

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for suppleness


  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
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  1. rare to make or become supple
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Derived Formssuppleness, noun

Word Origin for supple

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

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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper