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 So to mortalize the Huskies — transform them from hardwood demigods to fallible beings — Vic Schaefer’s staff stuck with something more formal. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Associate head coach Johnnie Harris wants to turn Texas women’s basketball into ‘a monster’," 12 May 2020 Many warn that Customs and Border Protection technology is dangerously fallible, that facial recognition software elsewhere has delivered inaccurate results and that this new approach could undercut civil liberties. Los Angeles Times, "Airport facial recognition technology runs into privacy fears," 23 Aug. 2019 Compared to a robot who might invest through good and bad, ignoring newspaper headlines, a fallible human can end up with a lot less money on retirement day due to greed and fear. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bear Market," 27 Mar. 2020 There are a few indications that leaders can appear human and fallible—able to mourn, to rest, to care for their families and themselves—without being immediately booted out of office. Cassie Werber, Quartz at Work, "Do we want our leaders to stay strong in a crisis, or do we want them to survive it?," 8 Apr. 2020 So here’s to being fallible, to honoring the possibilities of the ever-running moment by accepting that some of those possibilities are wrong. James Parker, The Atlantic, "An Ode to Fallibility," 3 Apr. 2020 The result was a 19-13 victory not only ended Kansas City’s incredible run of scoring at least 26 points in 22 straight games, but also proved Mahomes and Co. are fallible. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Chiefs’ first loss of season leaves them bruised, battered," 6 Oct. 2019 Mahomes had appeared fallible - throwing two second-half interceptions and missing throws under pressure from the 49ers’ front four. Matt Kawahara, SFChronicle.com, "‘We had zero doubt’: Chiefs’ comeback earns Andy Reid first Super Bowl win," 2 Feb. 2020 Even the head of the retail class proved to be fallible this holiday season. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Target gets brutal reminder of turnaround’s challenges from weak holiday season," 15 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for fallible

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fallible.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fallible. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for fallible


How to pronounce fallible (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of fallible

: capable of making mistakes or being wrong

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Spanish Central: Translation of fallible

Nglish: Translation of fallible for Spanish Speakers

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