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

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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 conventional wisdom on the Democratic side is largely predicated on a storybook version of the Democratic Party’s fall from grace and long, grinding return to power, undertaken by moderates rescuing the party from feckless liberals. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, "In search of the Democratic Party's fighting spirit," 20 June 2019 But prosecution witnesses have described Mr. Gilbert as a feckless young man interested mostly in pleasurable pursuits, who was furious with his father for reducing his spending money. New York Times, "He Graduated From Princeton, but Barely Worked. Then He Killed His Dad Over His Allowance.," 18 June 2019 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 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 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 But while the deal's most vocal opponents see it as a feckless pact with the great malign power of the Middle East, other analysts point to the complexity of the situation within Iran itself. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "American and Iranian hard-liners await the end of the nuclear deal," 4 May 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

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

Comments on feckless

What made you want to look up feckless? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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