Definition of supine in English:



  • 1(of a person) lying face upwards.

    Contrasted with prone (sense 2)
    • ‘A supine man is roughly dragged off like a carcass.’
    • ‘A supine figure lay motionless under a stack of blankets.’
    • ‘Characters speak in unison, repeat phrases obsessively, deliver lines supine on the floor, break up sentences illogically, or mumble sotto voce.’
    • ‘In his supine position, his gender was obvious.’
    • ‘Eventually I found myself lying supine on top of one of those dilapidated benches between the lockers, pretending to sleep.’
    • ‘From my point of view, it seems I'm lying supine on some sort of a bench or table.’
    • ‘Below each of the two buildings lies a supine male figure, with feet at left and head at right.’
    • ‘I lie, sweaty and supine, upon the damp bedclothes.’
    • ‘The sounds of a television, which seems tuned to a crime movie, play across an obstructed vision of a rumpled bed, a supine leg and a discarded handgun.’
    • ‘You captured the audience's attention on at least two occasions - while lying supine on the floor, plucking the cello that lay horizontally on top of you, and while playing Bach as you dangled from a balcony.’
    flat on one's back, prone, recumbent, prostrate, stretched out, spreadeagled
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    1. 1.1technical Having the front or ventral part upwards.
    2. 1.2 (of the hand) with the palm upwards.
  • 2Failing to act or protest as a result of moral weakness or indolence.

    ‘the government was supine in the face of racial injustice’
    • ‘But when it came to ‘policing ‘the franchises, the Arts Council proved utterly supine.’’
    • ‘The same spirit of unimaginative incompetence and weak compromise and supine drift will paralyse trade and business and prevent either financial reorganisation or economic resurgence.’
    • ‘Share prices then start to rise again, until such time that the market becomes so overvalued that our supine friends emerge once again from their hibernation.’
    weak, spineless, yielding, enervated, effete
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  • A Latin verbal noun used only in the accusative and ablative cases, especially to denote purpose (e.g. mirabile dictu ‘wonderful to relate’).


Late Middle English: the adjective from Latin supinus ‘bent backwards’ (related to super ‘above’); the noun from late Latin supinum, neuter of supinus.