• 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.
Show More
verb (used with or without object), sup·pled, sup·pling.
  1. to make or become supple.
Show More

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

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.

  • 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
Show More
  1. rare to make or become supple
Show More
Derived Formssuppleness, 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

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).

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper