en·​fee·​ble in-ˈfē-bəl How to pronounce enfeeble (audio)
enfeebled; enfeebling in-ˈfē-b(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce enfeeble (audio)

transitive verb

: to make feeble : deprive of strength
enfeeblement noun
Choose the Right Synonym for enfeeble

weaken, enfeeble, debilitate, undermine, sap, disable mean to lose or cause to lose strength or vigor.

weaken may imply loss of physical strength, health, soundness, or stability or of quality, intensity, or effective power.

a disease that weakens the body's defenses

enfeeble implies a condition of marked weakness and helplessness.

enfeebled by starvation

debilitate suggests a less marked or more temporary impairment of strength or vitality.

the debilitating effects of surgery

undermine and sap suggest a weakening by something working surreptitiously and insidiously.

a poor diet undermines your health
drugs had sapped his ability to think

disable suggests bringing about impairment or limitation in a physical or mental ability.

disabled by an injury sustained at work

Examples of enfeeble in a Sentence

long periods of being confined to a hospital bed will enfeeble anyone
Recent Examples on the Web To gain the gavel, McCarthy had to make a series of humiliating, enfeebling concessions to his far-right flank that more or less disempowered him. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 28 Apr. 2023 Decades of mass incarceration have resulted in a prison population growing older and more enfeebled, and has introduced the challenge of reintegrating people coming out after long sentences, often with few skills, into a society that technology has made alienatingly unfamiliar. Ginia Bellafante, New York Times, 31 Mar. 2023 Yet an honest accounting forced me to admit that my ability to party, protest, and publish has been far more enfeebled than enabled by social media. Peter Rubin, Longreads, 7 Mar. 2023 Most of the time, the result will enfeeble the virus. Boyce Upholt, The New Republic, 19 Sep. 2022 The paradox is that trauma’s lingering impacts can enfeeble human connection, weakening even the strongest of social bonds. New York Times, 5 July 2022 How, in other words, fear and neglect, rather than the waywardness Vogel rails against, are what really enfeeble the mind. Los Angeles Times, 26 May 2022 The goal is to blunt criticism and enfeeble the opposition. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 24 Feb. 2021 The move may, in effect, enfeeble America's technology sector and, worse yet, leave the root problem—investigating terrorism, child predation, and criminality—unresolved as wrongdoers flock to alternative products. Robert Hackett, Fortune, 29 June 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'enfeeble.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English enfeblen, from Anglo-French enfebler, enfeblir, from en- + feble feeble

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of enfeeble was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near enfeeble

Cite this Entry

“Enfeeble.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enfeeble. Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


en·​fee·​ble in-ˈfē-bəl How to pronounce enfeeble (audio)
enfeebled; enfeebling -b(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce enfeeble (audio)
: to make feeble

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