The adjective pliant describes something that is capable of being bent. "The teenager showed off her pliant spine every time she draped herself over a piece of furniture. Why hanging upside down off the sofa didn't give her a headache, her mother would never know."

Pliant has both a literal and a figurative meaning. Pliant can describe something that is bendable — like a spine, a tree branch, a bendy straw — or it can describe something that is flexible, but less tangible. In this latter sense, pliant describes something that adjusts to conditions or is easily influenced: "In order to survive the recession, the company had to be pliant and adjust to the new economic conditions."

Definitions of pliant

adj capable of being shaped or bent or drawn out

pliant molten glass”
ductile, malleable, pliable, tensile, tractile
having or given a form or shape

adj capable of being bent or flexed or twisted without breaking

“a pliant young tree”
bendable, pliable, waxy
flexible, flexile
able to flex; able to bend easily

adj able to adjust readily to different conditions

elastic, flexible, pliable
capable of adapting (of becoming or being made suitable) to a particular situation or use

adj capable of being influenced or formed

“a pliant nature”
impressible, impressionable, waxy
easily impressed or influenced

Sign up, it's free!

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