Definition of supine in US English:



  • 1(of a person) lying face upward.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In his supine position, his gender was obvious.’
    • ‘A supine figure lay motionless under a stack of blankets.’
    • ‘Eventually I found myself lying supine on top of one of those dilapidated benches between the lockers, pretending to sleep.’
    • ‘I lie, sweaty and supine, upon the damp bedclothes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Characters speak in unison, repeat phrases obsessively, deliver lines supine on the floor, break up sentences illogically, or mumble sotto voce.’
    • ‘From my point of view, it seems I'm lying supine on some sort of a bench or table.’
    • ‘A supine man is roughly dragged off like a carcass.’
    • ‘Below each of the two buildings lies a supine male figure, with feet at left and head at right.’
    flat on one's back, prone, recumbent, prostrate, stretched out, spreadeagled
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    1. 1.1technical Having the front or ventral part upward.
    2. 1.2 (of the hand) with the palm upward.
  • 2Failing to act or protest as a result of moral weakness or indolence.

    ‘supine in the face of racial injustice’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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., dictu in 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.