Pliable has two different meanings. But the pith of the word is flexible. I looked for its meaning on merriam webster dictionary where it is mentioned that pliable person is too easily influenced or controlled by other people which is a negative trait. But in the full definition of the word it is mentioned that a person who is pliable is adjustable which is a positive quality. So, can anyone clear me the meaning in which context the word is more suitable. Two example sentences She sometimes takes advantage of her pliable parents. She's a very pliable kind of person,being able to easily adapt herself to changing situations.

  • When used metaphorically (of a person, meaning "influenceable, receptive"), pliable usually carries negative associations. If we want positive associations, we'd probably choose an alternative such as receptive, adaptable, flexible. But there are many other ways to convey either nuance - for example, your pliable parents could be acquiescent, amenable, biddable, tractable, complaisant, accommodating, cooperative,... May 7, 2019 at 16:46
  • @FumbleFingers I also looked on many other resources and the word pliable has a negative association in the case of personality of a person. May 7, 2019 at 16:51
  • So what exactly are you asking about here, if you already know that? May 7, 2019 at 17:21
  • I found its answer after posting the question. Your comment should be a answer to this question. May 7, 2019 at 17:28
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    "He is very pliable we can easily mend him to work for us" doesn't make any sense to me. But pliable can mean either weak and controllable (negative) or flexible and adaptable (positive). As I said originally, it's about context. May 8, 2019 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


I think the answer is about how pliable a person is. This is all referencing flexibility as with wood as you say, or any material and how bendable it is. The dictionary makes the distinction between those who are flexible and those whose extreme flexibility is an actual character flaw. In an extreme case you might say someone is spineless.

  • I think spineless is an exteme case of negativity. In general sense pliable is more negative in association with human nature. May 7, 2019 at 17:33
  • @SudhirSharma On its own, pliable expresses neither a negative nor positive trait. The intent behind the use of the word can only be known in context. Speaking only personally, I've generally heard it used in more positive contexts than negative. But you can never know just from the word alone how to interpret it. May 8, 2019 at 16:07

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