Printable Version
Pronunciation: dah-sêl, -sail Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Easily taught. 2. Easily led or managed, tractable, submissive, obedient, ruly.

Notes: Today's word comes from a long-time editor of the Good Word series, who actually suggested docible "teachable". Since this legitimate word is so rarely used, I decided to explore instead docile, a commoner adjective that has inadvertently never appeared in the GW series. The adverb is docilely and the noun, docility.

In Play: If today's Good Word has an antonym, it must be unruly: "Duane Pipes's wife was a docile creature when they married, but became more unruly as the years rolled by." Docile is a relative concept; we may be more or less docile: "US press correspondents have become more docile since Watergate, most sitting calmly behind their desks all day, waiting for leaks and press releases."

Word History: This word comes to us from Italian or French docile, inherited from Latin docilis "easily taught", an adjective created from docere "to show, teach, cause to know", the causative form of decere "be seemly, fitting". Latin inherited its word from PIE root dek-/dok- "to take, accept". It also went into the making of doctor "teacher", as in PhD "doctor of philosophy" and Dr. Goodword. This root also provided doctrine, from Latin doctrina, that which is taught. Latin also used the E-form of this PIE word in decor "seemliness, elegance, beauty". English borrowed this word unaltered, but also in the past participle, decoratus, of decorare "to beautify". (Let's all now doubly thank Luciano Eduardo de Oliveira for his editorial services and the recommendation of today's calming Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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