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supple

[suhp-uh l] /ˈsʌp əl/
adjective, suppler, supplest.
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.
verb (used with or without object), suppled, suppling.
6.
to make or become supple.
Origin of supple
1250-1300
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 forms
suppleness, noun
unsupple, adjective
unsuppleness, noun
unsupply, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for supple
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He looked at her sidewise, and liked her firm and supple carriage.

    The Red Lily, Complete Anatole France
  • He prefers to strip it in the early summer, when the bark is supple with the sap.

    All Afloat William Wood
  • He was smooth-faced and fair to look upon, and with a supple form; but his mouth was cold, and false were his shifting eyes.

    Cleopatra H. Rider Haggard
  • Her face was the same, yet not the same; only her perfect, supple little body was as it had been.

    Beyond John Galsworthy
  • A small, slim woman, obviously light-boned and supple, she seemed to move forward like a ripple.

    The Nest Builder Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale
  • In a dim way he appreciated their grace and their supple nimbleness.

    Tales of Space and Time Herbert George Wells
  • A supple well-knit figure, indicated agility rather than strength.

  • In spite of her supple slenderness there was strength in her small wrists.

    Crooked Trails and Straight William MacLeod Raine
British Dictionary definitions for supple

supple

/ˈsʌpəl/
adjective
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
verb
5.
(rare) to make or become supple
Derived Forms
suppleness, 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
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Word Origin and History for supple
adj.

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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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