adjective, tam·er, tam·est.
verb (used with object), tamed, tam·ing.
verb (used without object), tamed, tam·ing.
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Origin of tame
SYNONYMS FOR 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
Her Facebook photos could populate a tame “girls with guns” style calendar.
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
That's tame compared to the C-word and racism other Republicans have thrown on the social network.
He left the crowd with a Greek aphorism—“to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”
I had just gotten my braces off and was learning how to tame my hair with a curling iron.Apps and Online Programs Offer New Ways to Report Street Harassment|Tessa Miller|April 2, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Here, if Man is to maintain himself at all, he must be master of tame animals which can eat the grass, and in turn sustain him.The Unity of Civilization|Various
Custom is, to think a handsome thing in private but tame it down in the utterance.The Letters Of Mark Twain, Volume 6, 1907-1910|Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
He was tame until the shadows began to gather and the sun went down.The Wolf's Long Howl|Stanley Waterloo
These are tame days when we have forgotten how to make Cock-Ale.The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened|Kenelm Digby
"In a little while he will get tame so he will follow us around," said Ole, as he cut the wooden bars for the cage.Mari, Our Little Norwegian Cousin|Mary Hazelton Wade