fallible

adjective

fal·​li·​ble ˈfa-lə-bəl How to pronounce fallible (audio)
1
: liable to be erroneous
a fallible generalization
2
: capable of making a mistake
we're all fallible
fallibly adverb

Did you know?

Humanum est errare” is a Latin expression that translates as “To err is human.” Of course, cynics might say that it is also human to deceive. The history of the word fallible simultaneously recognizes both of these character flaws. In modern usage, fallible refers to one’s ability to make mistakes, 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 fallere in English, all of which actually predate fallible, include fallacy (the earliest, now obsolete, meaning was “guile, trickery”), fault, false, and even fjail. Whoops, we mean fail.

Examples of fallible in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Rather than trusting fallible human institutions, private citizens could put their faith in mathematical code alone. Erika Page, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 Feb. 2024 While most people are good and decent, people are also weak, fallible, greedy and mistake prone. Reader Commentary, Baltimore Sun, 18 Jan. 2024 Rutman’s Criminal Record script has plenty of twists and surprises but the show’s real tension comes from the cat-and-mouse game played between Capaldi and Jumbo and in the slow reveal of their characters, who are both fallible and flawed in their own ways. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Jan. 2024 The vector wasn't a server, computer, or even a fallible human. Kevin Purdy, Ars Technica, 19 July 2023 And people are all fallible and vulnerable in different ways. Los Angeles Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, 22 Dec. 2023 HOAs are governed by people … and people are fallible. Kelly G. Richardson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Dec. 2023 Despite the fact the test is highly fallible, it has already been used to justify imprisoning women who lost children for murder, raising alarm over yet another potential manifestation of the prosecutor’s fallacy. David Robert Grimes, Scientific American, 8 Dec. 2023 In interviews and congressional testimony, more than a half-dozen American and Ukrainian officials described an assiduous but fallible process to track U.S.-delivered weapons. Lara Jakes, New York Times, 12 May 2023 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Medieval Latin fallibilis, from Latin fallere

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near fallible

Cite this Entry

“Fallible.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fallible. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

fallible

adjective
fal·​li·​ble ˈfal-ə-bəl How to pronounce fallible (audio)
: capable of making a mistake or being wrong
fallibility
ˌfal-ə-ˈbil-ət-ē
noun
fallibly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on fallible

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