Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective fick·le \ˈfi-kəl\

Simple Definition of fickle

  • : changing often

  • : changing opinions often

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of fickle

  1. :  marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability :  given to erratic changeableness

fickleness noun
fickly play \ˈfi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of fickle in a sentence

  1. The Weak will suck up to the Strong, for fear of losing their jobs and their money and all the fickle power they wielded only twenty-four hours ago. —Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone, 11 Nov. 2004

  2. The corporate fan who has replaced the core fan is a fickle beast, choosy about which games he'll use his precious free time to attend. —E. M. Swift, Sports Illustrated, 15 May 2000

  3. A failed play was a denial of what Odets was owed, for he was chasing the public no differently than did his bourgeois and nonrevolutionary contemporaries, a public as fickle as it always was and is. —Arthur Miller, Harper's, March 1999

  4. War is like hard-drug abuse or a fickle lover, an apparently contradictory bolt of compulsion, agony and ecstasy that draws you back in the face of better judgment time and time again. —Anthony Loyd, My War Gone By, 1999

  5. He blames poor sales on fickle consumers.

  6. <a fickle friendship that was on and off over the years>

Origin of fickle

Middle English fikel deceitful, inconstant, from Old English ficol deceitful; akin to Old English befician to deceive, and probably to Old English fāh hostile — more at foe

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of fickle

inconstant, fickle, capricious, mercurial, unstable mean lacking firmness or steadiness (as in purpose or devotion). inconstant implies an incapacity for steadiness and an inherent tendency to change <an inconstant friend>. fickle suggests unreliability because of perverse changeability and incapacity for steadfastness <performers discover how fickle fans can be>. capricious suggests motivation by sudden whim or fancy and stresses unpredictability <an utterly capricious critic>. mercurial implies a rapid changeability in mood <made anxious by her boss's mercurial temperament>. unstable implies an incapacity for remaining in a fixed position or steady course and applies especially to a lack of emotional balance <too unstable to hold a job>.

FICKLE Defined for Kids


adjective fick·le \ˈfi-kəl\

Definition of fickle for Students

  1. :  changing often :  not reliable <fickle friends> <fickle weather>

fickleness noun

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up fickle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to dishevel or rumple

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

reduce perplex disapprove soothe
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.