Definition of supple in English:



  • 1Bending and moving easily and gracefully; flexible.

    ‘her supple fingers’
    figurative ‘my mind is becoming more supple’
    • ‘It's a supple, elastically acrobatic form of dance, an Afro-Brazilian fusion developed over hundreds of years in both regions.’
    • ‘The supple pop-reggae beats remain intact, but the message has changed.’
    • ‘In the applied arts, which were the style's first and most characteristic manifestation, Rococo designers were concerned with colourfully fragile decoration, supple curves, anti-architectonic forms, and spirited elegance.’
    • ‘Her voice is the very backbone - a one-inch punch to the ears that leaves the music having to work around her supple timbre and edgily fluidic warble.’
    • ‘Her first company, a group of smart, supple women, did a series of little pieces in the early 1970s where they essentially created group choreography in performance.’
    • ‘He has written incisive lyrics, narratives, meditations and satires in verse that is both commanding and supple.’
    • ‘Pulling together: the roof of this little boathouse is derived from the repetition and rotation of a basic truss to form a supple curve that echoes the elegant dynamism of rowing’
    • ‘There is no shortage of sophisticated thinking, but the prose that delivers it is vigorous, endlessly supple and engaging everyday English.’
    • ‘The regular practice of certain postures and breathing exercises, make the body strong, supple and more healthy.’
    • ‘As if love were in his fingertips, he guides her in pirouettes and protects her supple back from bending too far.’
    • ‘Her graceful limbs were supple and filled with strength - she reminded him of an African gazelle.’
    • ‘Handsome, supple and fluid down to his fingertips, this zesty company newcomer is a real find.’
    • ‘I find his poems endlessly approachable, wonderfully communicative and perfectly inexhaustible: stately, supple, personal and resourceful.’
    • ‘His baritone was strong and supple but never forced.’
    • ‘His hand was as firm and supple as ever, the late drawings an ever-more assured symphony of fine lines.’
    • ‘In other instances, the need for smooth, supple legato is apparent; subtle variations of touches need to be used to ensure effective voicing and projection of the main line over relatively thick or busy accompanimental textures.’
    • ‘His first-time-out direction is imaginative and breathtakingly supple, the work of a greenhorn unsaddled by convention or limitation and able to tell a story in the precise terms forged by hundreds of live performances.’
    • ‘Venetian art is so supple, sensual, lavish with colour: and so anarchic with the rules of genre.’
    • ‘It adapts her supple camera style and keen editing eye to an amazing subject.’
    • ‘Much credit must be given to Iago's diabolical prowess which enables him to bend and twist the supple minds of his friends and spouse.’
    lithe, limber, nimble, lissom, flexible, loose-limbed, loose-jointed, agile, acrobatic, fit, deft, willowy, graceful, elegant
    pliant, pliable, flexible, soft, bendable, workable, malleable, stretchy, stretchable, elastic, springy, yielding, rubbery, plastic, resilient
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    1. 1.1 Not stiff or hard; easily manipulated.
      ‘this body oil leaves your skin feeling deliciously supple’
      • ‘Well, you should have regular pedicures and use creams and powders on your feet to keep the skin supple and prevent infection and odour.’
      • ‘Fullers were responsible for working raw and stiff cloth until it was supple enough to be used in making garments and other products.’
      • ‘I could never bring myself to pierce my supple skin with a dirty great syringe, however I don't see any reason why the crusty hippies who do should be thrown into jail.’


[with object]
  • Make more flexible.

    • ‘I was also able to concentrate on bending and suppling him laterally.’
    • ‘Instead, by slowly introducing the concepts of suppling and yielding to rein and bit pressure, even the hard mouthed horse eventually becomes an enjoyable horse to ride.’


Middle English: from Old French souple, from Latin supplex, supplic- ‘submissive’, from sub- ‘under’ + placere ‘propitiate’.