feck·​less | \ ˈfek-ləs \

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

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Other Words from feckless

fecklessly adverb
fecklessness noun

Did You Know?

Someone feckless is lacking in feck. And what, you may ask, is feck? Feck is a Scots term that means "effect" or "majority" and comes from an alteration of the Middle English effect. So something without feck is without effect, or ineffective. In the past, feckful (meaning "efficient," "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 Kremlin dared to act in such a brazen way because the West’s response to its campaign in Ukraine so far has been largely feckless. Adrian Karatnycky, WSJ, "Ukraine Is Moscow’s Guinea Pig," 28 Nov. 2018 Democrats said the Republican resistance had been so feckless, and so thoroughly quashed, as to be mostly useless. Ezra Klein, Vox, "The fall of the not-quite-Trumpers," 6 Nov. 2018 Right or wrong, plenty of Twitter’s users view Dorsey as a feckless, spineless suit unwilling to address even the most basic problems plaguing his platform. Parker Molloy, The Verge, "Roasting Jack Dorsey’s beard may be petty, but it’s also part of a time-honored tradition," 7 Sep. 2018 In truth, millennials aren't a uniform cohort of feckless young people. refinery29.com, "Not An Entitled Millennial: How 4 Young Women Support Their Whole Families," 27 June 2018 But a fine cast (including Bobby Cannavale as Laura’s feckless ex-husband) can’t compensate for the screenplay’s superficial sentimentality and lazy slapstick. That Rolls-Royce is pretty sweet, though. Shana Feste, New York Times, "Review: A Father and Daughter Renegotiate ‘Boundaries’," 21 June 2018 With the exception of a few Governors like Baker, Hogan and Kasich it is filled with feckless cowards who disgrace and dishonor the legacies of the party’s greatest leaders. Tara Golshan, Vox, "A prominent GOP strategist has left the Republican Party over family separations at the border," 20 June 2018 In this wise, discomfiting novel, a feckless American travels to the west of Ireland, marries into a local family, then looks for love elsewhere. New York Times, "11 New Books We Recommend This Week," 15 Feb. 2018 And so the feckless schemes of the conservatives realized the violent dreams of the Nazis. Timothy Snyder, New York Times, "How Did the Nazis Gain Power in Germany?," 14 June 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for feckless

Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for feckless

The first known use of feckless was circa 1585

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More Definitions for feckless



English Language Learners Definition of feckless

: having or resulting from a weak character or nature

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More from Merriam-Webster on feckless

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with feckless

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for feckless

Spanish Central: Translation of feckless

Nglish: Translation of feckless for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of feckless for Arabic Speakers

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