Definition of suppliant in English:



  • A person making a humble or earnest plea to someone in power or authority.

    • ‘Without such living arrangements it would not have been possible for thousands of Messenians to hold out as suppliants in the sanctuary of Zeus on Ithome in the 460s BC until they finally obtained safe conduct to their new home at Naupactus.’
    • ‘Exhausted, he dragged himself back to the temple in the morning, trying to summon the right words for the next suppliant.’
    • ‘The text refers to the humble suppliant as Jehu, son of Omri (a name by which all Israelite kings were identified, whether of the Omride dynasty or not) and describes the gifts he brought.’
    • ‘Inside the temple is a well that is believed to have the power to bring good luck and prosperity to suppliants.’
    • ‘There is little sign of satisfaction among the crowd of suppliants, relegated after the audience to the external space beyond the parapet on the right.’
    • ‘The stench of blood would have wafted down from the great religious sanctuaries - at Delphi, spiritual heart of the Greek world, each suppliant was required to sacrifice a goat.’
    • ‘The presence of noble British exiles at Rome as suppliants to the emperor will have reinforced Roman attitudes.’
    • ‘Often they resorted to psychological trickery such as planting a seeming dumb boy to come as a suppliant to the temple and then to recover his voice.’
    • ‘Unable to pay their fines despite their great wealth, they were presumably stripped of their ordinary legal protections as citizens, but as suppliants in a temple they were under the protection of the gods.’
    • ‘The judges are supposed to be separate, not suppliants to Executive Government.’
    • ‘Officials, most of whom are poorly paid, control access to things as lucrative as a large construction contract or as modest as a permit to reside in a neighborhood, all of which can cost the suppliant special fees.’
    petitioner, pleader, beseecher, supplicant, beggar, appellant, suitor, applicant, claimant
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  • Making or expressing a plea, especially to someone in power or authority.

    ‘their faces were wary and suppliant’
    • ‘The suitors, for good measure, also violate the code associated with feasting in other ways - by mistreating the servants in Odysseus's palace, and by their churlish treatment of Odysseus in disguise as a suppliant beggar.’
    • ‘Moreover, it also implied that Roman territory, whether administered by the army or by suppliant British rulers, was firmly in Aulus Plautius' hands.’
    pleading, begging, beseeching, imploring, entreating, supplicating, craving, on bended knee
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Late Middle English (as a noun): from French, beseeching, present participle of supplier, from Latin supplicare (see supplicate).