Meaning of PLASTIC in English

I. ˈplastik, -laas-, -lais-, -tēk adjective

Etymology: Latin plasticus, from Greek plastikos, from plastos formed, molded (verbal of plassein to form, mold) + -ikos -ic — more at plaster


a. : giving form : having power to form or create : creative , formative

the poor plastic power, such as it is, within me set to work — Charles Lamb

in these plastic moments, everything is possible — Béla Menczer

b. : giving or able to give material or sensible form to conceptions of color, shape, tone, or movement arising from the subconscious

plastic sensibility — Herbert Read


a. : capable of being modeled or shaped : susceptible of modification or change

plastic clay

the plastic quality of concrete before it hardens

b. : easily changed or modified : pliant , impressionable

strongest impressions are registered on the plastic and emerging personality — Diseases of the Nervous System

plastic affections of children — H.G.Wells

c. : characterized by mobility, pliancy, and flow or the simulation of these qualities

plastic dances

plastic and impressionistic style of modeling — Encyc. Americana

peasant woman of superb and plastic proportions — Hervey Allen

has the plastic face and the genuine warmth of personality which should make him a television natural — D.F.Schoenbrun



(1) : relating to, composed of, or producing three-dimensional forms or movement ; especially : showing or producing a forceful effect of three-dimensional, cohesive form : sculptural

plastic aim in stonework — J.J.Sweeney

(2) : having or producing the illusion of sculpture or relief

a plastic figure in painting

of the several plastic means, he used color most sparingly — Sheldon Cheney

(3) : of, relating to, or employing plastique

the plastic form and architectural construction of postwar ballets — Leonide Zarine

b. : characterized by concern with or emphasis upon form, solidity, and space as depicted especially by means of lines, colors, or planes and especially as differentiated from concern for illustrative content or decorative detail

used color not only for decorative but for plastic purposes — David Sylvester

plastic isolation of the objects against a uniform ground — J.T.Soby & A.H.Barr b. 1902

plastic light brings out the three-dimensional qualities of set, scenery, or talent — Herbert True

c. : having or producing coherency, harmony, and vitality of form : organic

revolutionary sense of the plastic whole — F.L.Wright


a. : capable of being deformed continuously and permanently in any direction without rupture under a stress exceeding the yield value

the plastic yielding of rocks — C.M.Nevin

slow movement of the plastic ice — V.C.Finch & G.T.Trewartha

— distinguished from elastic

b. : of, relating to, or produced by plastic flow

existence of a limiting stress below which no plastic strain occurs — R.S.T.Kingston & L.D.Armstrong

5. biology

a. : capable of variation and phylogenetic change : adaptable

a plastic genus

a plastic species

b. : capable of growth, repair, or differentiation

a plastic tissue

6. : of, relating to, involving, or by means of plastic surgery

plastic repair

7. : of or relating to plastics : made of a plastic

plastic dishes

plastic ropes

plastic manufacturing


pliable , pliant , ductile , malleable , adaptable : plastic may describe substances soft enough to mold and often liable to subsequent hardening and becoming fixed

a plastic tar

toys made of plastic substances

when children are small we elders in charge are apt to suppose them altogether plastic — H.G.Wells

pliable suggests something easily bent, twisted, or manipulated

pliable willow twigs

I've always been a pliable sort of person, and I let the ladies guide me — Upton Sinclair

a sturdier quality, which made her less pliable to the influence of other minds — Nathaniel Hawthorne

pliant may stress flexibility to a slightly greater degree than pliable but sometimes lacks the suggestions of submissiveness of the latter word

a pliant rod

in all these countries the Norse nature, supple and pliant, accepted the gifts of new experience, and in return imparted strength of purpose to peoples with whom the Norsemen mingled in marriage as well as war — H.O.Taylor

ductile describes what can be drawn out

ductile copper wire

or easily led or induced to flow

a ductile liquid

In ref. to persons it indicates complaisance or responsiveness to formative influences

he is a big dimpled child with cream and rose complexion, self-willed yet ductile . He can be managed, if his petulance is understood — Francis Hackett

malleable refers to what may be beaten into shape

thin gold leaf is very malleable

In ref. to persons it may indicate plasticity and may but does not necessarily suggest weakness and lack of independent will

children, malleable as yet, innocent and unformed. He may impress their minds most dangerously — Elinor Wylie

long enough for the Communist overseers to spot the more malleable individuals and concentrate on converting them into tools — Gladwin Hill

adaptable , generally complimentary, applies to a thing, condition, or person that modifies readily to adjust to circumstances

an adaptable appliance

have proved themselves an uncommonly adaptable people — American Guide Series: Arizona

II. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Late Latin plasticus, n., from Latin plasticus, adjective, plastic

1. archaic : molder , sculptor


[Middle French plastique, from plastique, adjective, plastic, from Latin plasticus ]

a. : the art of modeling or sculpturing figures — often used in plural but sing. or plural in constr.

b. : plastique



(1) : a substance that at some stage in its manufacture or processing can be shaped by flow (as by application of heat or pressure) with or without fillers, plasticizers, reinforcing agents, or other compounding ingredients and that can retain the new solid often rigid shape under conditions of use

(2) : any of a large group of materials of high molecular weight that usually contain as the essential ingredient a synthetic or semisynthetic organic substance made by polymerization or condensation (as polystyrene or a phenol-formaldehyde resin) or derived from a natural material by chemical treatment (as nitrocellulose from cellulose), that are molded, cast, extruded, drawn, or laminated under various conditions (as by heat in the case of thermoplastic materials, by chemical condensation in the case of thermosetting materials or polyesters, or by casting during polymerization of monomers) into objects of all sizes and shapes including films and filaments — often used in plural but sing. in constr.; compare elastomer , resin 2, rubber 2a, synthetic rubber

b. : an article fabricated from a plastic

4. plastics plural but singular or plural in construction : plastic surgery

III. adjective

: having a quality suggestive of objects mass-produced in plastic ; especially : lacking in vitality, originality, or sincerity

plastic smiles

a plastic marriage

vilified our skyway-filled downtowns, calling them lifeless and plastic — Brian Lowey

IV. noun

: credit cards used for payment

the bill was £17.00, the banks were closed, and they don't take plastic — David Coombs

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.