From Middle English souple, from Old French souple, soupple (“soft, lithe, yielding”), from Latin supplic-, supplex (“suppliant, submissive, kneeling”), of uncertain formation. Either from sub + plicō (“bend”) (compare complex), or from sub + plācō (“placate”). More at sub-, placate.
- Pliant, flexible, easy to bend.
- 2011 July 25, Don Peck, “Can the Middle Class Be Saved?”, in The Atlantic:
- Global supply chains, meanwhile, have grown both tighter and more supple since the late 1990s—the result of improving information technology and of freer trade—making routine work easier to relocate.
- Lithe and agile when moving and bending.
- supple joints
- supple fingers
- 1918 February (date written), Katherine Mansfield [pseudonym; Kathleen Mansfield Murry], “Je ne parle pas français”, in Bliss and Other Stories, London: Constable & Company, published 1920, →OCLC, pages 82–83:
- My hands are supple and small. A woman in a bread shop once said to me: “You have the hands for making fine little pastries.”
- (figuratively) Compliant; yielding to the will of others.
- a supple horse
- (transitive, intransitive) To make or become supple.
- (transitive) To make compliant, submissive, or obedient.