Definition of discipline in English:



  • 1mass noun The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.

    ‘a lack of proper parental and school discipline’
    • ‘In 1923 parliament began to revise the code of military discipline.’
    • ‘A healthy family will set codes of behaviour, discipline and boundaries, which allow for some flexibility, but are consistent and always recognise the individuality of its members.’
    • ‘So great is the concern for discipline that some parents will even be insistent that their child receives harsh, practically militaristic, discipline.’
    • ‘It is important to distinguish between discipline and punishment.’
    • ‘When parents set rules for discipline, children need to understand and respect the rules, which is possible only through communication and mutual respect.’
    • ‘She said schools were reminded in 1994 that behaviour and discipline codes should include measures to counter bullying behaviour.’
    • ‘The rules of discipline were not casually administered.’
    • ‘A second possible interpretation emerges when parents' discussions of discipline practices are considered.’
    • ‘Alongside the obsession with test results goes an insistence on discipline and harsh punishment of bad behaviour.’
    • ‘To bring in the law as a big stick with which to beat parents of recalcitrant kids implies that there can be no discipline: only punishment.’
    • ‘And that fear is always accompanied by the threat of discipline, punishment, and violence.’
    • ‘Institutionalization of discipline and dress codes is another strategy used to curb violence.’
    • ‘‘Those who are responsible for this… will be punished according to the army discipline and rules,’ he said.’
    • ‘Along with the other cadets, he rose before dawn, kept his quarters neat, attended class and adhered to a military code of discipline.’
    • ‘Sparta was, as you know, a military state, so to be ‘Spartan’ is to adhere to a code of military discipline.’
    • ‘Although the rhetoric of the military is all about discipline, the daily practice of the troops is a cut throat entrepreneurialism.’
    • ‘This legal code dealt with military discipline, criminal law and societal customs and regulation.’
    • ‘His rule reveals an extremely severe discipline and detailed penal code.’
    • ‘They need rules and discipline not tea and sympathy for their wrongdoings.’
    • ‘They know that forms of discipline which reward good behaviour, rather than punishing the bad, are more effective, safer and promote better relationships at home.’
    control, regulation, direction, order, authority, rule, strictness, a firm hand
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    1. 1.1 The controlled behaviour resulting from such training.
      ‘he was able to maintain discipline among his men’
      • ‘More than ever before, the working men of Chicago had to conform to new standards of industrial discipline and self control.’
      • ‘The victory guaranteed them top place in their group and was deserved after they defended with discipline and controlled a game which witnessed several crowd incidents.’
      • ‘This was done purely to bring about discipline among the players and maintain its dignity.’
      • ‘That meant tight budgetary discipline to control inflation, reduce the deficit and moderate the volume of public debt.’
      • ‘It all becomes a matter of control or discipline or regard for other's situations despite your own wants.’
      • ‘As a result, what this recording lacks in kinetic excitement it gains in discipline and controlled wit.’
      • ‘‘There is insufficient discipline on controlling costs in local government,’ he said.’
      • ‘She displays all the skills of her craft with discipline controlled by passion.’
      • ‘It also suggested that a high level of formalism, discipline, and control is required for flexibility to be achieved.’
      • ‘Fasting is all about self control and discipline.’
      • ‘Here, the battle commanders had been able to maintain a semblance of discipline and control.’
      • ‘It seems to me that this House cannot have it both ways, and that we need some consistency here in order to maintain discipline.’
      • ‘Traditionalists see crime and poverty as largely the result of a breakdown in social discipline or self control.’
      • ‘Organised and efficient, others admire and respect their discipline, control and eloquence.’
      • ‘Due to the complex flow process, absence of lane markings and avoidance of regulatory measures, drivers are not able to maintain lane discipline.’
      • ‘It takes discipline or self control on the part of the trainer to make the horse into a disciple or follower, to cause the horse to willingly follow your lead.’
      • ‘They believe in instilling a deep sense of self-respect and discipline among students.’
      • ‘In most cases it takes lots of self control and discipline, but it is the lack of those particular qualities in a majority of players that keeps the casino gaming industry thriving.’
      • ‘What's needed from me is a little bit more control and discipline.’
      • ‘At the time, his playing impressed me with its discipline, control, intelligence, and gorgeous sound, all directly in the service of the music.’
      control, regulation, direction, order, authority, rule, strictness, a firm hand
      self-control, self-discipline, self-government, control, controlled behaviour, self-restraint
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    2. 1.2 Activity that provides mental or physical training.
      ‘the tariqa offered spiritual discipline’
      count noun ‘Kung fu is a discipline open to old and young’
      • ‘However, to be continuously successful at any physical discipline requires that you be sincere to yourself and dedicated to the game.’
      • ‘"Just how do they favour certain sports disciplines over others.’
      • ‘The government has also arrested thousands of practitioners of a spiritual discipline that primarily involves physical exercise and meditation.’
      • ‘Though meditation is the main religious discipline practiced by convert Buddhists, chanted liturgies are an important part of many meditations.’
      • ‘For many spiritually oriented folks, this can include providing compassionate service or maintaining spiritual disciplines such as meditation.’
      • ‘Yoga, you might be interested to know, is the oldest physical discipline in existence.’
      • ‘The group time must include some portion devoted to prayer and other spiritual disciplines.’
      • ‘It's a very physical discipline, how do you prepare for it?’
      • ‘Yoga as a means to mental and physical discipline and well being is also taught.’
      • ‘A group of friends and I have aimed to practice and develop bodybuilding in our city so as to show the aesthetic and physical profits of this discipline.’
      • ‘The practice of kata, as a lifelong physical discipline, is, however, an appropriate method of practice for older people.’
      • ‘This new series explores a traditional spiritual discipline that offers sound guidance to help you cultivate the qualities of your soul.’
      • ‘Shinto reinforced already strongly-established national notions of spiritual discipline and physical fitness.’
      • ‘Thirty-five sports disciplines and four cultural activities will be offered during seven days of competitions.’
      • ‘In fact, the Roller Skating School has endeavoured to popularise this all-year sport as a physical training discipline in schools and colleges.’
      teaching, tuition, coaching, tutoring, education, schooling, tutelage, pedagogy, andragogy
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    3. 1.3count noun A system of rules of conduct.
      ‘he doesn't have to submit to normal disciplines’
      • ‘The increase in support was possible because many domestic programs are exempt from World Trade Organization disciplines.’
      • ‘They affirmed that existing and emerging regional trading agreements should be consistent with WTO rules and disciplines.’
      • ‘The discipline system is focussed on the values project.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, morality is intelligible only as a social discipline based on general rules impartially applied.’
      • ‘It will be negotiated in conformity with the rules and disciplines of the World Trade Organisation.’
      • ‘He said there was a system of disciplines to deal with the problem and he said he had no doubt that the safeguards would be removed ‘at an early stage.’’
      • ‘It must be driven from the top, because the implementation is not just the system, but a discipline.’
      • ‘It blurs the division between foreign and domestic policy, increases competitive pressures in markets, and makes globally-based trade rules and disciplines even more important.’
      • ‘The former were to be policed and controlled, the latter discouraged through the disciplines of increasingly marketized welfare.’
      • ‘When we go to Japan, we go there knowing all the rules and all the disciplines and how to participate in the game.’
      • ‘With normal investment disciplines applied, this approach could easily yield returns at 150 percent of the S&P 500.’
      • ‘Self-regulation would be fine in an environment in which the normal disciplines of the market, including bankruptcy in some extreme cases, were allowed to function in full.’
      • ‘That type of activity was only feasible and could only be guaranteed to have sufficient quality if an organisation had all the disciplines, funding and support to do it, he said.’
      • ‘The move away from national capitalisms to a more uniform system based on market disciplines has contributed to the undermining of the legitimacy of governments in Europe.’
      • ‘It goes back to the basics of art in film by a self-imposed discipline of 10 ‘rules'.’
  • 2A branch of knowledge, typically one studied in higher education.

    ‘sociology is a fairly new discipline’
    • ‘Affiliative identities result from choices of academic discipline, graduate school, mentoring networks, and employing institution.’
    • ‘Both men draw not only from their own disciplines but from their knowledge of history, sociology, and literature.’
    • ‘The project is even a little ironic, considering the history of the discipline of geography.’
    • ‘Historians of psychology frequently grumble about the marginal status of historical scholarship within the discipline of psychology.’
    • ‘Many academic disciplines have defined keys journals in their field, but health education has failed to do so.’
    • ‘In turn, oral history has become more integrated into the discipline of history.’
    • ‘Historians borrowed from such disciplines as political science, linguistics, economics, and philosophy.’
    • ‘Medicine and law were the first disciplines to professionalize their knowledge.’
    • ‘Not for nothing are the branches of science called disciplines.’
    • ‘Though it offers some of the most striking recent samples, history is not the only discipline in which scholarship has been put at risk.’
    • ‘This environment fostered new regional journals and a growing range of specialist journals catering to the interests of historians working in the branches of the discipline.’
    • ‘With such technology, individual scholars may even be able to afford to own the entire recorded knowledge of their disciplines.’
    • ‘Nowhere is that liberal ideology so powerful as in the discipline of economics".’
    • ‘With the exception of history and art history, graduate students and contingent faculty teach more than half of the courses offered in the disciplines studied.’
    • ‘Although similar to other inductive processes, this methodology differs in that it emerges from the discipline of sociology.’
    • ‘Anthropology is a social science discipline whose primary object of study has traditionally been non-Western, tribal societies.’
    • ‘These scholars are commonly based in universities and research academies in the disciplines of philosophy, history, and literature.’
    • ‘The continuing development of comprehensive universities should allow them to extend their knowledge base in multiple disciplines and fields.’
    • ‘Different academic disciplines are characterized (in part) by their distinct approaches to substantiating knowledge.’
    • ‘Success seems to be a goal for all disciplines of psychology.’
    field, field of study, branch of knowledge, course of study, subject, area
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[with object]
  • 1Train (someone) to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.

    ‘many parents have been afraid to discipline their children’
    • ‘The slant-eyed boy took a little longer, but showed the same obstinate behavior and the sheriff had to discipline him accordingly.’
    • ‘The teachers seemed for the most part to hate their jobs, and spent more time disciplining students than they did actually teaching.’
    • ‘Since the government banned corporal punishment in schools, teachers think they cannot discipline the children.’
    • ‘Even teachers are reluctant to intervene and often feel it is not their responsibility to discipline young people.’
    • ‘To effectively discipline a child, parents must have set rules and reasons to reinforce them.’
    • ‘One thing disciplining a child has taught me is that you need to keep iron control over your temper and watch what you do - because your child is watching and taking cues from your behavior.’
    • ‘‘We do believe in disciplining our children to stop them behaving badly,’ she said.’
    • ‘This behaviour only started recently after she was disciplined for throwing food in the classroom, but I have to admit I am not sure of what to do next.’
    • ‘It must thus be proper to punish the parents by calling them from work so they can discipline their child to ensure compliance with the code of conduct of the school.’
    • ‘Equally, while a parent cannot be made to love his child, he can be limited by the law in how far he can use physical punishment to discipline his child.’
    • ‘If a good father disciplines his child to teach him, and a bad father punishes his child to let out frustration, a terrible father shows no interest at all.’
    • ‘The problem seems to be less the availability of the drug than the fact that society has lost confidence in its ability to educate and discipline children.’
    • ‘Older people overwhelmingly feel that children have less respect for the older generation and older people are unable to discipline their children and grandchildren.’
    • ‘Spanking is not just a right parents have when dealing with their children; nor is it just a necessary tool for training and disciplining children.’
    • ‘On other occasions I delved into very personal issues, such as problems with in-laws or disciplining children.’
    • ‘If anything, I called for the reinstatement of teachers' powers to discipline students, including the administering of corporal punishment.’
    • ‘It is also a dishonest campaign, since most of its proponents object to any form of punishment that parents use to discipline their children.’
    • ‘This means more than just teaching us and disciplining us.’
    • ‘Physical punishment is not the most effective way to discipline children.’
    • ‘A state's truant officers can also discipline the parents of delinquent students if they either aid or condone their children's misconduct.’
    train, drill, teach, school, coach, educate, regiment, indoctrinate
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    1. 1.1 Punish or rebuke formally for an offence.
      ‘a member of staff was to be disciplined by management’
      • ‘The brigade commander will be disciplined for failing to manage his troops properly.’
      • ‘He should be reprimanded and disciplined in the same manner as players and managers.’
      • ‘The deputies were later disciplined for offences that included not stopping the beating and not writing up a report about it.’
      • ‘During the flight the production manager spoke of how he had had to discipline one of his staff for lateness.’
      • ‘Regulatory law may demand that the rules be legally enforceable and that members be disciplined for their breach.’
      • ‘Have they been fired, disciplined or reprimanded?’
      • ‘Several staff have been disciplined and one senior manager is understood to have quit since the scandal.’
      • ‘About a decade ago, seeking to give managers more power, the department instituted binding arbitration for disciplining officers.’
      • ‘I'm not saying that the analysts don't deserve to be disciplined or punished.’
      • ‘Could I go to section 10, the power to discipline by way of reprimand.’
      • ‘Management officials disciplined all of them with punishments ranging from a one-week layoff to discharge.’
      • ‘Only one state board had disciplined a physician for undertreatment of pain.’
      • ‘I requested that the officers be disciplined and properly trained.’
      • ‘It is the job of supervisory departments and public prosecutors to discipline and punish the relevant departments.’
      • ‘The secretary of the Footballers' Association said there were already heavy punishments available to discipline footballers.’
      • ‘Managers at the hospital have been disciplined following an investigation.’
      • ‘Depending on who the line manager was, you could be disciplined for not wearing it, and that was unacceptable.’
      • ‘If I am breaking union rules, let them discipline me.’
      • ‘To help enforce these new restrictions, the programme-makers have also introduced a formal disciplining mechanism.’
      • ‘The body claims that people have been held accountable; senior management were disciplined and lost their bonuses.’
      punish, penalize, take disciplinary action against, bring to book
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    2. 1.2discipline oneself to do something Train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.
      ‘every month discipline yourself to go through the file’
      • ‘To control risks, you'll need to set targets - and discipline yourself to follow them.’
      • ‘Developing a financial plan means taking control of what you have now and disciplining yourself to manage your money to reach those goals you have set for yourself and your family.’
      • ‘See, there's a reason I discipline myself to be faithful to electronic media.’
      • ‘Finally, he said, he disciplined himself to represent each image faithfully by hand.’
      • ‘'Over the last year I found it hard to discipline myself to get on with my work', she said.’
      • ‘Like many of the students on his course he finds mathematics difficult and has been unable to discipline himself to distribute the workload evenly throughout the term.’
      • ‘This is a difficult task and a constant battle, but I firmly believe that by disciplining ourselves to work together as one, it is the only way to achieve true peace and happiness.’
      • ‘It amazed him how much these people had to discipline themselves to stay that way.’
      • ‘Read something you disagree with and discipline yourself to analyze why you disagree.’
      • ‘Set your clock a half hour earlier and discipline yourself to arrive early for work or appointments.’
      • ‘I started my blog in order to discipline myself to write every day.’
      • ‘This time out, however, he disciplines himself to reach the goal.’
      • ‘You must discipline yourself to eat properly, with what is available where you live.’
      • ‘Little by little, discipline yourself to meditate at the same time each day.’
      • ‘As a jockey I disciplined myself to put money aside to pay my tax bills, which were for tens of thousands of pounds.’
      • ‘Thirdly, we have to discipline ourselves to begin to train.’
      • ‘Also I need to give myself lots of study time because I loathe studying and I'm rather bad at disciplining myself to do it.’
      • ‘I really must discipline myself to get up and wake up.’
      • ‘Arranging regular practice with a group of skaters is a great way to discipline yourself to work on technique often.’
      • ‘Managers have to discipline themselves to set clear goals and measurable outcomes for teleworking employees rather than acting as timekeepers.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘mortification by scourging oneself’): via Old French from Latin disciplina ‘instruction, knowledge’, from discipulus (see disciple).