1. Capable of being shaped or formed, as by hammering or pressure: a malleable metal.
2. Easily controlled or influenced: "The British [rulers] ... had favoured the brother who struck them as altogether more amiable, a more malleable, more temperate man" (Paul Scott).
a. Able to adjust to changing circumstances; adaptable: a malleable leader unafraid to compromise.
b. Capable of being changed or adjusted to meet particular or varied needs: the malleable rhythms of jazz.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin malleābilis, from malleāre, to hammer, from Latin malleus, hammer; see melə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
mal′le·a·bili·ty, malle·a·ble·ness n.
Synonyms: malleable, ductile, plastic, pliable, pliant
These adjectives mean capable of being shaped, bent, or drawn out: malleable metals such as gold and silver; ductile copper; a plastic substance such as wax; soaked the leather to make it pliable; pliant molten glass.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.