adjective, tam·er, tam·est.
verb (used with object), tamed, tam·ing.
verb (used without object), tamed, tam·ing.
SYNONYMS FOR tame
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Origin of tame
OTHER WORDS FROM tame
Words nearby tame
What does tame mean?
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.
Example sentences from the Web for tame
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.Forget Everything You Know About Your Dog (Ep. 436)|Stephen J. Dubner|October 22, 2020|Freakonomics
In all, the measures looked methodical—tame, even—compared with elsewhere in Europe.As COVID cases spike in Europe, Italy stands out—but this time for doing things right|Bernhard Warner|October 15, 2020|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.How Biking Across America Formed an Unlikely Friendship|Raffi Joe Wartanian|October 8, 2020|Outside Online
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.Environment Report: Size Doesn’t Always Matter Under New Parks Plan|MacKenzie Elmer|July 13, 2020|Voice of San Diego
Historically, effective governments have always been able to tame them, although sometimes it took many decades to make that possible.What Does Covid-19 Mean for Cities (and Marriages)? (Ep. 410)|Stephen J. Dubner|March 26, 2020|Freakonomics
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.Hagel Takes a Bullet for Obama: Inside the Defense Secretary’s Sudden Firing|Shane Harris, Tim Mak|November 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
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.‘Housewife Tycoon’ Took On ‘Mad Men’ NYC Real Estate Market and Won|Vicky Ward|October 26, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The hills disappear some miles above this city, and henceforward to the sea all is flat and tame as a marsh.Glances at Europe|Horace Greeley
You've got a splendid chance can spend what you like and rule in society and he'll subside into a tame spaniel.Elster's Folly|Mrs. Henry Wood
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.Kipling Stories and Poems Every Child Should Know, Book II|Rudyard Kipling