Gracility is slenderness, the condition of being gracile, which means slender. It derives from the Latin adjective gracilis (masculine or feminine), or gracile (neuter),[1] which in either form means slender, and when transferred for example to discourse takes the sense of "without ornament", "simple" or various similar connotations.[2]

In Glossary of Botanic Terms, B. D. Jackson speaks dismissively[3] of an entry in earlier dictionary of A. A. Crozier[4] as follows: Gracilis (Lat.), slender. Crozier has the needless word "gracile". However, his objection would be hard to sustain in current usage; apart from the fact that gracile is a natural and convenient term, it is hardly a neologism. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary[5] gives the source date for that usage as 1623 and indicates the word is misused (through association with grace) for Gracefully slender."[5] This misuse is unfortunate at least, because the terms gracile and grace are unrelated: the etymological root of grace is the Latin word gratia from gratus, meaning pleasing[5] and nothing to do with slenderness or thinness.[citation needed]

In biologyEdit

In biology, the term is in common use, whether as English or Latin:

In biological taxonomy, gracile is the specific name or specific epithet for various species. Where the gender is appropriate, the form is gracilis. Examples include:

The same root appears in the names of some genera and higher taxa:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Gray, Mason D.; Jenkins, Thornton, eds. (1934). "gracile". Latin for Today, Book 2. Ginn and Co., Ltd.
  2. ^ Simpson, D. P., ed. (1977). "gracile". Cassell's Latin Dictionary: Latin-English, English-Latin. London: Cassell. ISBN 0-02-522580-4.
  3. ^ Jackson, Benjamin Daydon (1928). "gracile". A Glossary of Botanic Terms with their Derivation and Accent (4th ed.). London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. W.C.2
  4. ^ Crozier, Arthur Alger (1893). "gracile". A Dictionary of Botanical Terms. Henry Holt & Co.
  5. ^ a b c Little, William; Fowler, H.W.; Coulson, J.; Onions, C.T., eds. (1968). "gracile". Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principals. Oxford at the Clarendon Press.