Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Easily bent or flexed; pliable. See Synonyms at malleable.
  • adj. Easily altered or modified to fit conditions; adaptable.
  • adj. Yielding readily to influence or domination; compliant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Capable of plying or bending; readily yielding to force or pressure without breaking; flexible; pliable; lithe; limber; plastic; as, a pliant thread; pliant wax.
  • adj. Easily influenced for good or evil; tractable; as, a pliant heart.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Capable of plying or bending; readily yielding to force or pressure without breaking; flexible; pliable; lithe; limber; plastic. Also used figuratively: Easily influenced for good or evil; tractable.
  • adj. Favorable to pliancy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Capable of being easily bent; flexible; supple; limber; lithe: as, a pliant twig.
  • Easily bent or inclined to any particular course; readily influenced for good or evil; easy to be persuaded; yielding.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. able to adjust readily to different conditions
  • adj. capable of being bent or flexed or twisted without breaking
  • adj. capable of being influenced or formed
  • adj. capable of being shaped or bent or drawn out

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, present participle of plier, to fold, bend, from Latin plicāre; see plek- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French pliant. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Mann congratulated himself on having articulated the notion of pliant time in an early draft of his great novel, even before Einstein expanded the theory in 1916.

    Novels of Time and Memory

  • Its road show, he says, was pitched to believers, and the media in China is largely pliant, meaning the company has rarely faced tough questions.

    Focus Media Spooks Investors

  • We do not know what the word here translated "pliant" [Greek: streptos] means, and

    Homer and His Age

  • He got the name of a "pliant" doctor and now has a medical card.

    Denver Post: News: Breaking: Local

  • Combined with what the late Ernest Mandel called "extra-economic" factors (such as pliant labor leadership and peaceful trade unionism, establishment of the Bretton Woods international monetary system, Cold War ideology and the suppression or pacification of any possible dissent, and relative decline in the price of oil and other raw materials in the immediate post-WW II period), the New Deal and other government-sponsored reforms ushered in a period of rapid economic expansion that came to be known as the "golden years of US capitalism," which lasted until around 1970.

    CounterPunch

  • The rhythms of organist/guitarist Sean Antanaitis and drummer David Bergander are more pliant the third time around, giving plenty of room for frontwoman Katrina Ford to soar, coo and growl with equal aplomb.

    Going Gaga for Beats and Tunes

  • Jay Hunter Morris, who took over the punishing title role just a week before the premiere, has a bright, pliant tenor—not large, but ringing and energetic.

    Of Gods And Monsters

  • It's the duo's astute absorption of the '80s' pliant synth-pop and its attendants electro, boogie, R & B, as well as an ability to keep the reverence fun, that carries them well beyond the joke.

    Melting With Winter's Melodies

  • Cairo is a linchpin of the so-called moderate Arab axis allied with Washington against the region's less-pliant regimes, including Iran and its proxies.

    An Abrupt End to a Powerful Reign

  • Sadly, over a century later, the blood-soaked gains made by America's labor movement are being relentlessly eroded by stealthy corporations and pliant politicians.

    Mark Cassello: Labor and Capital in the 21st Century: Legacy of the Haymarket Affair

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