View synonyms for tame


[ teym ]


, tam·er, tam·est.
  1. changed from the wild or savage state; domesticated:

    a tame bear.

    Antonyms: wild

  2. without the savageness or fear of humans normal in wild animals; gentle, fearless, or without shyness, as if domesticated:

    That lion acts as tame as a house cat.

  3. tractable, docile, or submissive, as a person or the disposition.

    Synonyms: yielding, obedient, meek

  4. lacking in excitement; dull; insipid:

    a very tame party.

    Synonyms: tiresome, tedious, boring, vapid, flat

  5. spiritless or pusillanimous.

    Synonyms: fainthearted, dastardly, cowardly

  6. not to be taken very seriously; without real power or importance; serviceable but harmless:

    They kept a tame scientist around.

  7. brought into service; rendered useful and manageable; under control, as natural resources or a source of power.
  8. cultivated or improved by cultivation, as a plant or its fruit.

verb (used with object)

, tamed, tam·ing.
  1. to make tame; domesticate; make tractable.

    Synonyms: subdue, break

  2. to deprive of courage, ardor, or zest.
  3. to deprive of interest, excitement, or attractiveness; make dull.
  4. to soften; tone down.

    Synonyms: mollify, moderate, calm

  5. to harness or control; render useful, as a source of power.
  6. to cultivate, as land or plants.

verb (used without object)

, tamed, tam·ing.
  1. to become tame.


/ teɪm /


  1. changed by man from a naturally wild state into a tractable, domesticated, or cultivated condition
  2. (of animals) not fearful of human contact
  3. lacking in spirit or initiative; meek or submissive

    a tame personality

  4. flat, insipid, or uninspiring

    a tame ending to a book

  5. slow-moving

    a tame current


  1. to make tame; domesticate
  2. to break the spirit of, subdue, or curb
  3. to tone down, soften, or mitigate

Discover More

Derived Forms

  • ˌtamaˈbility, noun
  • ˈtameness, noun
  • ˈtamable, adjective
  • ˈtameless, adjective
  • ˈtamer, noun
  • ˈtamely, adverb

Discover More

Other Words From

  • tame·ly adverb
  • tame·ness noun
  • tam·er noun
  • o·ver·tame adjective
  • o·ver·tame·ly adverb
  • o·ver·tame·ness noun
  • un·tame adjective
  • un·tame·ly adverb
  • un·tame·ness noun

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of tame1

First recorded before 900; (adjective) Middle English; Old English tam; cognate with Dutch tam, German zahm, Old Norse tamr; (verb) Middle English tamen, derivative of the adjective; replacing Middle English temen “to tame,” Old English temian, derivative of tam; cognate with Old Norse temja, Gothic gatamjan; akin to Latin domāre “to tame”

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of tame1

Old English tam; related to Old Norse tamr, Old High German zam

Discover More

Example Sentences

Beginning with 130 foxes, he selectively chose and bred those that were the most “tame,” as he described itThese “tame” foxes were allowed to mate.

In all, the measures looked methodical—tame, even—compared with elsewhere in Europe.

From Fortune

Out there, the ownership of land seemed like a myth used to tame an unconquerable planet with its imposing mountains, endless forests, and hypnotic deserts.

To solve it, the city now wants to harness and tame those fees so everybody is paying the same amount based on the type of housing they build.

Historically, effective governments have always been able to tame them, although sometimes it took many decades to make that possible.

Her Facebook photos could populate a tame “girls with guns” style calendar.

But Edith was rather tame compared to George Sitwell, her father.

He was widely perceived as having been outplayed by a vast military bureaucracy that he never sought to tame.

These comments are actually tame compared to the off-the-charts, scary chatter heard from the GOP last week.

“We make the Wolf of Wall Street look tame,” one of my sources for the book told me.

The hills disappear some miles above this city, and henceforward to the sea all is flat and tame as a marsh.

You've got a splendid chance can spend what you like and rule in society and he'll subside into a tame spaniel.

The party was made up of six men on horseback, two tame buffaloes, and a pack of immense dogs used to hunting.

With one of the tame buffaloes on each side of him, he can now be easily led to the village, where they will kill him.

You can see that it is five o'clock, because Big God Nqong's pet tame clock says so.


Discover More

More About Tame

What does tame mean?

When an animal is tame, it has been domesticated, a sense metaphorically extended to someone or something considered “subdued,” “boring,” or “mild.”

Tame is also a verb for putting something wild under control. 

Where does tame come from?

Tame, as an adjective, is dated to Old English, when it was used of domesticated animals—to break them of their wild, human-fearing nature—and people or things showing such subdued characteristics. The verb form is recorded by the 1300s.

By metaphorical extension, a person, performance, or work of art that is tame is dismissed as predictable or boring. We’re still calling, say, TV shows tame, though this use of the word (“dull, uninspired”) has been recorded since the 1600s.

Tame notably appears in the title of William Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew, which is about making the titular shrew (or “ill-tempered woman”), Kate, a more agreeable person, shall we say.

How is tame used in real life?

Critics of movies, TV shows, music, and other art forms who are unimpressed by what they’ve seen may describe the work as tame, especially when the work has been billed to be exciting or risqué.

People may also use the verb tame, when not breaking lions for the circus, as a way about bringing “wild” behavior under control. This could be anything from taming unruly hair to taming a spending habit to taming a bad attitude.

More examples of tame:

“Tame Your Money Shame. It’s taboo to talk about financial struggles because our emotions about money run so deep—but naming our feelings around money will help us deepen our relationship with it.”
—Bari Tessler, Mindful, September 2018


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.