Borrowed from Middle French gracil, gracile (“slender, thin”) (modern French gracile (“gracile”)), or directly from its etymon Latin gracilis (“slender, slim, thin; lean, meagre, scanty; simple, unadorned”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *kerḱ- (“to become thin; to wane”). The sense “graceful or gracefully slender” was apparently influenced by the non-cognate word grace. The English word is cognate with Italian gracile (“delicate, frail; slender, thin”), Portuguese grácil, Spanish grácil (“graceful; delicate; slender”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈɡɹæsaɪl/, /-sɪl/
Audio (RP) (file)
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈɡɹæˌsaɪl/, /ˈɡɹæsəl/, /ˈɡɹeɪˌsaɪl/
- Rhymes: (General American) -æsəl
- Hyphenation: grac‧ile
- (also figuratively) Lean, slender, thin.
- 1701 November 30, Abraham de la Pryme, “III. Part of a Letter from the Reverend Mr Abraham de la Pryme to the Publisher, Concerning Trees Found under Ground in Hatfield Chace. Thorn, Nov. 19, 1701 [Julian calendar].”, in Philosophical Transactions. Giving Some Account of the Present Undertakings, Studies and Labours of the Ingenious, in Many Considerable Parts of the World, volume XXII, London: Printed for S[amuel] Smith and B[enjamin] Walford, printers to the Royal Society, […], published 1702 (October 1701 issue), →OCLC, page 986:
- [T]hoſe Trees that are called Firs by the Vulgar (from their near conformity and likeneſs to that Tree) are well known by all Learned Men (by the Redneſs, the Roſinous Nature of the Wood, the Gracil Cones hanging downwards, &c.) to be the true Pitch-Tree, of which there are ſuch great plenty in Norway, Sweden, and other Countries of the North, [...]
- 1829, James Francis Stephens, “Genus XCVII.—Ochthebius, Leach.”, in Illustrations of British Entomology; or, A Synopsis of Indigenous Insects: […], volume II (Mandibulata), London: Printed for the author; and published by Baldwin and Cradock, →OCLC, page 114:
- Maxillary palpi shorter than the antennæ, the terminal joint small, gracile, subulated; [...]
- 1835 July 24, Tho[ma]s Frognall Dibdin, quoting I[saac] D’Israeli, “Kensingtoniana”, in Reminiscences of a Literary Life; with Anecdotes of Books, and of Book Collectors, 2nd part, London: John Major, […], published 1836, →OCLC, footnote, page 788:
- 1846, Walter Savage Landor, “[Imaginary Conversations] Marcus Tullius and Quinctus Cicero”, in [John Forster], editor, The Works of Walter Savage Landor. In Two Volumes, volume I, London: Edward Moxon, […], →OCLC, page 246, column 1:
- Unswathe his Egyptian mummy; and from the folds of fine linen, bestrewn and impregnated with aromatics, you disclose the grave features and gracile bones of a goodly and venerable cat.
- 1902, D[aniel] J[ohn] Cunningham, “The Nervous System. The Brain and Spinal Cord, with their Meninges.”, in D. J. Cunningham, editor, Text-book of Anatomy, Edinburgh, London: Young J. Pentland, →OCLC, page 456:
- The gracile and cuneate nuclei [of the brainstem] take shape before the decussation of the pyramids is fully completed [...]. The gracile nucleus appears in the form of a small irregular mass of gray matter in the interior of the funiculus gracilis. [...] It [the cuneate nucleus] presents a very different appearance from the gracile nucleus, because throughout its whole length the gray nucleus and the fibres of the strand are separated from each other by a sharp line of demarcation.
- 1994, Tim[othy M.] Caro, “Conservation of Cheetahs in the Wild and in Captivity”, in Cheetahs of the Serengeti Plains: Group Living in an Asocial Species, Chicago, Ill., London: University of Chicago Press, →ISBN, page 345:
- The cheetah's gracile, canid-like morphological features and the extremely fast sprint it uses to capture prey have fostered a popular mythology that the species is overly specialized and hence doomed to extinction [...].
- 2000, T. H. Watkins, “Introduction: Home of My Heart”, in The Redrock Chronicles: Saving Wild Utah, Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, →ISBN, page 3:
- I am helplessly addicted to this place, this wondrous geographic puzzle of canyons turning in on themselves, [...] of horizon-wide sweeps of sunlit emptiness and gracile unknown places where darkness hides and will not tell its name.
- 2006, Bradley J. Adams, “Biological Profile: Race/Ancestry, Sex, and Stature”, in Lawrence Kobilinsky, editor, Forensic Anthropology (Inside Forensic Science), New York, N.Y.: Chelsea House, Infobase Publishing, →ISBN, page 47:
- While the pelvis is the best area to determine an individual's sex, the skull may also be used. [...] For example, males usually have very prominent (or robust) mastoid processes, projections that serve as muscle attachment sites behind the ears, while females have much smaller (or gracile) mastoid processes. Due to human variation, it is possible for a man to have very gracile features or a female to have very robust features.
- 2015, Sankar Chatterjee, “The Origin of Birds”, in The Rise of Birds: 225 Million Years of Evolution, 2nd edition, Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, →ISBN, page 47, column 2:
- The deinonychosaurs have gracile skulls, a carnivorous diet, and asymmetric flight feathers; all these features possibly evolved secondarily in deinonychosaurs.
- (chiefly zoology, anthropology, paleontology) Of an animal or skeletal element: having a slender frame.
- Antonym: robust
- 1945, J. Lawrence Angel, “Neolithic Ancestors of the Greeks”, in American Journal of Archaeology, volume 49, number 3, →DOI, page 256:
- This tentative comparison, plus consideration of individual skulls, shows the Neolithic pre-Greeks more Mediterranean than the Greeks, with emphasis on intermediate or gracile Mediterranean rather more than on the rugged Basic White trend, [...]
- 1981, Nancy Makepeace Turner, “Early Hominid Lifeways: The Critical Role of an Interpretive Framework”, in On Becoming Human, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 254:
- Where stratified fossil sequences are known, "gracile" fossils precede robust ones. The extremely robust hominids do not appear on the scene until about 2 million years ago, followed shortly thereafter by an "advanced" gracile. Both the advanced gracile and robust forms probably evolved from earlier gracile australopithecines.
- 2004, Richard Dawkins, “Ape-men”, in The Ancestor’s Tale: The Dawn of Life, New York, N.Y.: Houghton Mifflin Company, →ISBN, pages 86–87:
- At various times since Homo first appeared in Africa, it shared the continent with more robust hominids, perhaps several different species of them. [...] They seem to have evolved from more ‘gracile’ apes (gracile being the opposite of robust). The gracile apes are also placed in the genus Australopithecus, and we too almost certainly emerged from among gracile australopithecine ranks.
- 2004, Clive Finlayson, “Comparative Behaviour and Ecology of Neanderthals and Modern Humans”, in Neanderthals and Modern Humans: An Ecological and Evolutionary Perspective, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 117:
- We would also expect increasing home-range size in Neanderthals in 'edge' regions (bordering the MLB and the plains), such as south-west France, in response to habitat fragmentation during periods of expansion of open vegetation. A more gracile morphology would have been far more efficient over larger areas.
- Graceful or gracefully slender.
- 1908 September 19, “The Bohemian Jinks. The Grove Play has Now Become a Distinctive Feature of Dramatic Art.”, in Alfred Holman, editor, The Argonaut, volume LXIII, number 1643, San Francisco, Calif.: Argonaut Publishing Company, →OCLC, page 183, column 3:
- [A] band of dancers run upon the stage and perform a sylvan dance with gracile wavings of branches or the clinking of cymbals.
- 1923 January, Thomas Mann, “Tristan”, in The Dial, volume LXXIV, New York, N.Y.: The Dial Publishing Company, →OCLC, chapter XII, page 76:
- Then Herr Spinnell turned his back and got away from there. Followed by the jubliations of the little Klŏterjahn, holding his arm in a certain cautious and stiffly gracile manner, he walked over the gravel with the vehement, yet hesitating steps of one who seeks to hide the fact that he is—inwardly—on the run.
- 1923 February, H[enry] De Vere Stacpoole, “The Garden of God”, in Herbert Greenhough Smith, editor, The Strand Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly, volume LXV, London: George Newnes, Ltd., […], →OCLC, book II, chapter XIII, page 117, column 1:
- Katafa had taken refuge in the second great pool, a pool some few feet deep and large enough for a person to swim in. The water was tepid and the floor of soft sand, and as she slipped into it, gracile as a serpent, she did not look to see what fish there might be there.
- 1979, David Dayton, “Another Portrait of the Artist: After Louis Malle and Polly Platt’s Pretty Baby”, in The Lost Body of Childhood: Poems, Providence, R.I.: Copper Beech Press, →ISBN, stanza I, page 38:
- The low women, coiffed, perfumed, / and decked out in high fashion, / Adorn the parlor's plush decor / like debutantes, stepping out / to greet gents with gracile, / fawning caresses and playful leers.
- 2004, James Simpson, “The Elegiac”, in Reform and Cultural Revolution (The Oxford English Literary History; 2 (1350–1547)), Oxford, Oxfordshire, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 121:
gracile (plural graciles)
- “gracile”, in Trésor de la langue française informatisé [Digitized Treasury of the French Language], 2012.
gracile (plural gracili)
- gracile in Treccani.it – Vocabolario Treccani on line, Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana