feck·​less | \ ˈfek-ləs How to pronounce feckless (audio) \

Definition of feckless

1 : weak, ineffective She can't rely on her feckless son.
2 : worthless, irresponsible a feckless maneuver that could only serve to strengthen the enemy— Simon Schama

Other Words from feckless

fecklessly adverb
fecklessness noun

Did you know?

Someone feckless is lacking in feck. And what, you may ask, is feck? In Scots—our source of fecklessfeck means "majority" or "effect." The term is ultimately an alteration of the Middle English effect. So something without feck is without effect, or ineffective. In the past, feckful (meaning "efficient, effective," "sturdy," or "powerful") made an occasional appearance. But in this case, the weak has outlived the strong: feckless is a commonly used English word, but feckful has fallen out of use.

Examples of feckless in a Sentence

She can't rely on her feckless son. a well-intentioned but feckless response to the rise in school violence
Recent Examples on the Web The focus on the formula crisis dovetailed with the message Republicans hoped would win them victories in November: that Mr. Biden and Democrats have been feckless on issues like inflation and rising gas prices that matter most to regular Americans. New York Times, 12 May 2022 Americans wanted a more normal chief executive, not open borders, a feckless foreign policy and a more powerful Bernie Sanders. WSJ, 9 Jan. 2022 The second will be the feckless knaves, who know fully well the void behind the concept, but see an opportunity to make money. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 1 Apr. 2022 Republicans, meanwhile, have been determined to outflank Biden, casting his approach as weak and feckless — with some clearly seeing the opportunity to create a political wedge ahead of November’s midterm elections. Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2022 Under the feckless leadership of Tsar Nicholas II, Russia's disastrous performance in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 was the first time in the modern era that an Asian power had defeated a European one. Peter Bergen, CNN, 24 Mar. 2022 In hindsight, Germany’s complacency toward Putin’s abuses and consolidation of power looks feckless. Alec Macgillis, ProPublica, 16 Mar. 2022 Russia’s history of doping, the IOC’s feckless punishment structure, the abusive behavior of adults in a troubled sport and a child who could not compete at her best with the eyes of the world upon her. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 20 Feb. 2022 Far from being weak or feckless, Biden has played a key role in bringing allies together. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 3 Mar. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of feckless

circa 1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for feckless

Scots, from feck effect, majority, from Middle English (Scots) fek, alteration of Middle English effect

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The first known use of feckless was circa 1585

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Feckless.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feckless. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on feckless

Nglish: Translation of feckless for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of feckless for Arabic Speakers


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