Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
December 13th, 2014
Episode 44 of 825 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 13, 2014 is: tractable \TRAK-tuh-bul\ adjective 1 : capable of being easily led, taught, or controlled 2 : easily handled, managed, or wrought Examples: The couple had hoped to find a tractable and obedient dog that wouldn't cause too much trouble, but instead they got Rufus and their life has never been the same. "But values have been steadily rising simply because it's such a good driver's car. It's incredibly tractable and usablemore so than any other car I can think of from that period, in fact." Dylan Miles, quoted in Classic Driver, November 14, 2014 Did you know? Obedient, docile, and amenable are synonyms of tractable, but those four words have slightly different shades of meaning. Tractable describes an individual whose character permits easy handling, while docile implies a predisposition to submit readily to authority. Obedient is often used to describe compliance with authority, although that compliance is not necessarily offered eagerly. Amenable, on the other hand, is usually used when one cooperates out of a desire to be agreeable. Tractable dates from the early 16th century and derives from the Latin verb tractare ("to handle" or "to treat"). Despite the resemblance, this root did not give us the noun tractor or verbs such as contract or attractthose all derive from a loosely related Latin verb trahere ("to draw or drag").