fal·​li·​ble | \ ˈfa-lə-bəl How to pronounce fallible (audio) \

Definition of fallible

1 : liable to be erroneous a fallible generalization
2 : capable of making a mistake we're all fallible

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Other Words from fallible

fallibly \ ˈfa-​lə-​blē How to pronounce fallibly (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?

Errare humanum est. That Latin expression translates into English as "To err is human." Of course, cynics might say that it is also human to deceive. The word fallible simultaneously recognizes both of these human character flaws. In modern usage, it refers to one's ability to err, but it descends from the Latin verb fallere, which means "to deceive." Fallible has been used to describe the potential for error since at least the 15th century. Other descendants of the deceptive fallere in English, all of which actually predate fallible, include fallacy (the earliest, now obsolete, meaning was "guile, trickery"), fault, false, and even fail and failure.

Examples of fallible in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Gawande’s four best-selling books focus on how fallible clinicians can get things right amid complexity and uncertainty. Felice J. Freyer, BostonGlobe.com, "Dr. Atul Gawande has long searched for a cure for the health care system," 25 June 2018 In contrast, the various mechanisms involved in long-term contraception are designed to make your body less hospitable to pregnancy in a continuous, less fallible way. Natasha Lavender, SELF, "Here's How Emergency Contraception Actually Works," 1 Apr. 2019 Preservation Is the Point The brain is fallible, says Dr. Kiewra, who does research on the teaching-learning process and how people develop talents.... Heidi Mitchell, WSJ, "What’s the Best Way to Take Notes?," 23 Oct. 2018 The technology is fallible, but useful for this project. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "The Smart Way to Organize and Back Up Your Photos," 2 Nov. 2018 Tennis doesn’t allow for such a result, but the most an uncommonly talented young woman can hope for is to play the fallible people who raised her to a tie. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "Review: Amanda Peet's 'Our Very Own Carlin McCullough': A tennis prodigy learns life's score," 29 June 2018 But Twitter also has administrators: a small group of real and fallible human beings. Jessi Hempel, WIRED, "Immigration Fight Shows Silicon Valley Must Stop Feigning Neutrality," 8 July 2018 And because judicial protection of rights becomes less important, our reliance on fallible and often highly ideological judges becomes more limited, and a populist backlash against the judiciary becomes less likely, too. Eric Posner And Glen Weyl, Vox, "The Supreme Court is an anti-democratic nightmare. Here’s how to fix it.," 29 June 2018 Humans, ever fallible, must practice humility, this logic goes; part of that practice must involve the recognition that even empathy must answer to a higher power. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "How to Look Away," 20 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fallible.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fallible

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fallible

Middle English, from Medieval Latin fallibilis, from Latin fallere

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Last Updated

3 May 2019

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Time Traveler for fallible

The first known use of fallible was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of fallible

: capable of making mistakes or being wrong

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More from Merriam-Webster on fallible

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Spanish Central: Translation of fallible

Nglish: Translation of fallible for Spanish Speakers

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


behavior toward others

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