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 fallible (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 Many cases also hinge on imperfect technology and fallible digital evidence that could undermine prosecutors’ claims. Author: Drew Harwell, Craig Timberg, Anchorage Daily News, "How America’s surveillance networks helped the FBI catch the Capitol mob," 2 Apr. 2021 There is a leveling effect to his approach, one that allows About Endlessness to find grandeur in the smallest of everyday moments while also highlighting the fallible, fleshly absurdity of even history’s most outsize figures. Alison Willmore, Vulture, "About Endlessness Gloriously Collages the Absurdity and Grandeur of the Everyday," 30 Apr. 2021 According to a story in The Guardian, the idea of the game is to show the public how fallible these systems are and raise awareness of why deploying them may, in many cases, not be such a good idea. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "No-code A.I. is coming. Is your company ready?," 6 Apr. 2021 The ruling reflects the principle that news organizations, staffed by fallible human beings, will sometimes get things wrong and must be allowed to do their jobs with some protections from punishment. Washington Post, "The problem with cheering for the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News," 1 Apr. 2021 The hedge fund, created to safeguard property and mitigate risk, formulated to destroy the downside of a binary buy or sell, dedicated to the proposition of profit at all prices, had again proved to be fallible. Frederick Kaufman, The New Yorker, "A Brief History of the Hedge Fund," 19 Mar. 2021 Those determinations are confidential and, of course, fallible. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Genre Is Disappearing. What Comes Next?," 8 Mar. 2021 There are no guarantees other than that most fallible one, the human heart. Herbert Gold, Harpers Magazine, "The Injustice Collector," 5 Jan. 2021 This show is about the people first and our all-too-fallible technology second. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "TV Technica 2020: Our favorite shows and binges in a year of living distantly," 26 Dec. 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

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

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Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fallible.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fallible. Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for fallible



English Language Learners Definition of fallible

: capable of making mistakes or being wrong

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Nglish: Translation of fallible for Spanish Speakers

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