When you have discipline, you have self-control. When you discipline children, you are either teaching them to be well-behaved, or you are punishing and correcting them.

The origins of this word offer great clues about its current meanings. The Old French descepline referred to punishment and suffering. The Latin disciplina meant "teaching, learning." The Old English version referred to a branch of knowledge or field of study (so if you're really good at word origins, you might want to make etymology your discipline). Developing discipline as a form of training is a military concept that's more than 500 years old.

Definitions of discipline

n a system of rules of conduct or method of practice

“he quickly learned the discipline of prison routine”
“for such a plan to work requires discipline
Type of:
system, system of rules
a complex of methods or rules governing behavior

n a branch of knowledge

“in what discipline is his doctorate?”
bailiwick, field, field of study, study, subject, subject area, subject field
show 88 types...
hide 88 types...
the study of the supernatural
communication theory, communications
the discipline that studies the principles of transmiting information and the methods by which it is delivered (as print or radio or television etc.)
the principal field of study of a student at a university
an undeveloped field of study; a topic inviting research and development
the study or investigation of ancestry and family history
the study of the relative growth of a part of an organism in relation to the growth of the whole
the scientific study of documents and handwriting etc. especially to determine authorship or authenticity
an informal word (abstracted from words with this ending) for some unidentified branch of knowledge
science, scientific discipline
a particular branch of scientific knowledge
the discipline dealing with the principles of design and construction and ornamentation of fine buildings
applied science, engineering, engineering science, technology
the discipline dealing with the art or science of applying scientific knowledge to practical problems
futuristics, futurology
the study or prediction of future developments on the basis of existing conditions
arts, humanistic discipline, humanities, liberal arts
studies intended to provide general knowledge and intellectual skills (rather than occupational or professional skills)
divinity, theology
the rational and systematic study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truth
military science
the discipline dealing with the principles of warfare
the study of methods of escaping (especially as a form of entertainment)
the study of handwriting (especially as an indicator of the writer's character or disposition)
the study of the supposed occult influence of numbers on human affairs
the study of origins and first things
the study of the origins and genealogy of the gods
natural history
the scientific study of plants or animals (more observational than experimental) usually published in popular magazines rather than in academic journals
the study or the use of symbols and symbolism
natural science
the sciences involved in the study of the physical world and its phenomena
math, mathematics, maths
a science (or group of related sciences) dealing with the logic of quantity and shape and arrangement
agronomy, scientific agriculture
the application of soil and plant sciences to land management and crop production
the study of plant nutrition and growth especially as a way to increase crop yield
science of soils in relation to crops
architectonics, tectonics
the science of architecture
landscape architecture
the branch of architecture dealing with the arrangement of land and buildings for human use and enjoyment
urban planning
the branch of architecture dealing with the design and organization of urban space and activities
interior design
the branch of architecture dealing with the selection and organization of furnishings for an architectural interior
the science and technology of metals
aeronautical engineering
the branch of engineering science concerned with the design and construction of aircraft
application of biological principles to the study and design of engineering systems (especially electronic systems)
bioengineering, biotechnology, ergonomics
the branch of engineering science in which biological science is used to study the relation between workers and their environments
chemical engineering
the branch of engineering that is concerned with the design and construction and operation of the plants and machinery used in industrial chemical processes
civil engineering
the branch of engineering concerned with the design and construction of such public works as dams or bridges
EE, electrical engineering
the branch of engineering science that studies the uses of electricity and the equipment for power generation and distribution and the control of machines and communication
computer science, computing
the branch of engineering science that studies (with the aid of computers) computable processes and structures
architectural engineering
the branch of engineering that deals with the construction of buildings (as distinguished from architecture as a design art)
industrial engineering, industrial management
the branch of engineering that deals with the creation and management of systems that integrate people and materials and energy in productive ways
IT, information technology
the branch of engineering that deals with the use of computers and telecommunications to retrieve and store and transmit information
mechanical engineering
the branch of engineering that deals with the design and construction and operation of machinery
the branch of engineering that deals with things smaller than 100 nanometers (especially with the manipulation of individual molecules)
nuclear engineering
the branch of engineering concerned with the design and construction and operation of nuclear reactors
naval engineering
the branch of engineering that deals with the design and construction and operation of ships
the branch of engineering science that studies rocket design and operation
the scientific study of measurement
the scientific study of food and drink (especially in humans)
psychological science, psychology
the science of mental life
IP, informatics, information processing, information science
the sciences concerned with gathering, manipulating, storing, retrieving, and classifying recorded information
cognitive science
the field of science concerned with cognition; includes parts of cognitive psychology and linguistics and computer science and cognitive neuroscience and philosophy of mind
social science
the branch of science that studies society and the relationships of individual within a society
the science or art of strategy
the science of systematic classification
the branch of science that studies death (especially its social and psychological aspects)
revival of a classical style (in art or literature or architecture or music) but from a new perspective or with a new motivation
classicalism, classicism
a movement in literature and art during the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe that favored rationality and restraint and strict forms
Romantic Movement, Romanticism
a movement in literature and art during the late 18th and early 19th centuries that celebrated nature rather than civilization
the discipline that studies the English language and literature
the discipline that records and interprets past events involving human beings
art history
the academic discipline that studies the development of painting and sculpture
the determination of the actual temporal sequence of past events
beaux arts, fine arts
the study and creation of visual works of art
performing arts
arts or skills that require public performance
the scholarly knowledge of western cultures and languages and people
Oriental Studies, Orientalism
the scholarly knowledge of Asian cultures and languages and people
the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics
literary study
the humanistic study of literature
library science
the study of the principles and practices of library administration
linguistics, philology
the humanistic study of language and literature
the scholarly and scientific study of music
the study of Chinese history and language and culture
stemmatics, stemmatology
the humanistic discipline that attempts to reconstruct the transmission of a text (especially a text in manuscript form) on the basis of relations between the various surviving manuscripts (sometimes using cladistic analysis)
(Middle Ages) an introductory curriculum at a medieval university involving grammar and logic and rhetoric; considered to be a triple way to eloquence
(Middle Ages) a higher division of the curriculum in a medieval university involving arithmetic and music and geometry and astronomy
cryptanalysis, cryptanalytics, cryptography, cryptology
the science of analyzing and deciphering codes and ciphers and cryptograms
the scientific study of language
the branch of theology that is concerned with angels
the branch of theology that is concerned with the defense of Christian doctrines
the branch of theology concerned with the nature and the constitution and the functions of a church
the branch of theology that is concerned with such final things as death and Last Judgment; Heaven and Hell; the ultimate destiny of humankind
the branch of theology that deals with principles of exegesis
the branch of theology that deals with sermons and homilies
liturgics, liturgiology
the study of liturgies
the branch of theology that defends God's goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil
the branch of military science dealing with detailed maneuvers to achieve objectives set by strategy
the branch of military science dealing with military command and the planning and conduct of a war
Type of:
domain, knowledge base, knowledge domain
the content of a particular field of knowledge

n training to improve strength or self-control

Type of:
grooming, preparation, training
activity leading to skilled behavior

n the trait of being well behaved

“he insisted on discipline among the troops”
indiscipline, undiscipline
the trait of lacking discipline
show 9 types...
hide 9 types...
self-denial, self-discipline
the trait of practicing self discipline
control, restraint
discipline in personal and social activities
asceticism, austerity, nonindulgence
the trait of great self-denial (especially refraining from worldly pleasures)
abstention, abstinence
the trait of abstaining (especially from alcohol)
continence, continency
the exercise of self constraint in sexual matters
self-restraint, temperateness
exhibiting restraint imposed on the self
moderation, temperance
the trait of avoiding excesses
the quality of being inhibited
voluntary control over urinary and fecal discharge
Type of:
a distinguishing feature of your personal nature

n the act of punishing

“the offenders deserved the harsh discipline they received”
the act of slapping on the buttocks
Type of:
penalisation, penalization, penalty, punishment, sanction
the act of punishing

v develop behavior by instruction and practice; especially to teach self-control

“Parents must discipline their children”
check, condition, train
groom, prepare, train
educate for a future role or function
practice self-denial of one's body and appetites
Type of:
develop, make grow
cause to grow and differentiate in ways conforming to its natural development

v punish in order to gain control or enforce obedience

“The teacher disciplined the pupils rather frequently”
correct, sort out
Type of:
penalise, penalize, punish, sanction
impose a penalty on; inflict punishment on

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.