fick·​le ˈfi-kəl How to pronounce fickle (audio)
: marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability : given to erratic changeableness
fickleness noun
fickly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for fickle

inconstant, fickle, capricious, mercurial, unstable mean lacking firmness or steadiness (as in purpose or devotion).

inconstant implies an incapacity for steadiness and an inherent tendency to change.

an inconstant friend

fickle suggests unreliability because of perverse changeability and incapacity for steadfastness.

performers discover how fickle fans can be

capricious suggests motivation by sudden whim or fancy and stresses unpredictability.

an utterly capricious critic

mercurial implies a rapid changeability in mood.

made anxious by her boss's mercurial temperament

unstable implies an incapacity for remaining in a fixed position or steady course and applies especially to a lack of emotional balance.

too unstable to hold a job

Example Sentences

The Weak will suck up to the Strong, for fear of losing their jobs and their money and all the fickle power they wielded only twenty-four hours ago. Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone, 11 Nov. 2004
The corporate fan who has replaced the core fan is a fickle beast, choosy about which games he'll use his precious free time to attend. E. M. Swift, Sports Illustrated, 15 May 2000
A failed play was a denial of what Odets was owed, for he was chasing the public no differently than did his bourgeois and nonrevolutionary contemporaries, a public as fickle as it always was and is. Arthur Miller, Harper's, March 1999
War is like hard-drug abuse or a fickle lover, an apparently contradictory bolt of compulsion, agony and ecstasy that draws you back in the face of better judgment time and time again. Anthony Loyd, My War Gone By, 1999
He blames poor sales on fickle consumers. a fickle friendship that was on and off over the years See More
Recent Examples on the Web Support for spaceflight programs can be fickle — even the Apollo missions quickly began to lose support and the public’s interest. Christian Davenport, Washington Post, 11 Dec. 2022 Compared to the lossless clarity and endless replay-ability of a recording — which can here be retrieved even from a phone thrown into the sea — memory is fickle, and thoughts and motivations cannot be known outside the locked box of your own heart. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 23 May 2022 Memories are fickle, people change, opinions change, and things take on new contexts. Evan Romano, Men's Health, 5 May 2022 Not surprisingly, this slice of China’s film market, always a fickle and unpredictable one, is expected to take longer to recover. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Feb. 2023 Like any child, Paloma is constantly inspired and fickle. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 2 Feb. 2023 The world of closing games can be a fickle and yearly consistency can be elusive for many due to various reasons. Larry Fleisher, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2023 Kelly says Sagittarians can be somewhat unpredictable and sometimes fickle. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 18 Oct. 2022 Still, the latest results also show that Zoom can’t fully walk away from its small and fickle customers. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, 23 Aug. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle English fikel deceitful, inconstant, from Old English ficol deceitful; akin to Old English befician to deceive, and probably to Old English fāh hostile — more at foe

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fickle was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near fickle

Cite this Entry

“Fickle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


fick·​le ˈfik-əl How to pronounce fickle (audio)
: likely to change frequently without good reason : inconstant
fickle friends
fickleness noun
fickly adverb

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