foi·​ble | \ ˈfȯi-bəl How to pronounce foible (audio) \

Definition of foible

1 : the part of a sword or foil blade between the middle and point
2 : a minor flaw or shortcoming in character or behavior : weakness admired their teacher despite his foibles … talent is always balanced by foible.— Janna Malamud Smith

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Synonyms & Antonyms for foible


demerit, dereliction, failing, fault, frailty, shortcoming, sin, vice, want, weakness


merit, virtue

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Choose the Right Synonym for foible

fault, failing, frailty, foible, vice mean an imperfection or weakness of character. fault implies a failure, not necessarily culpable, to reach some standard of perfection in disposition, action, or habit. a writer of many virtues and few faults failing suggests a minor shortcoming in character. being late is a failing of mine frailty implies a general or chronic proneness to yield to temptation. human frailties foible applies to a harmless or endearing weakness or idiosyncrasy. an eccentric's charming foibles vice can be a general term for any imperfection or weakness, but it often suggests violation of a moral code or the giving of offense to the moral sensibilities of others. compulsive gambling was his vice

Did You Know?

The weakest part of a sword blade is the portion between the middle and the pointed tip. Back in the mid-1600s, English speakers borrowed the French word foible to refer to that most easily broken part of the sword or foil. Despite the superficial resemblance, "foible" does not come from "foil." The French foible was an adjective meaning "weak." (That French word, which is now obsolete, is derived from the same Old French term, feble, that gives us "feeble.") The English "foible" soon came to be applied not only to weaknesses in blades, but also to minor failings in character. It appeared in print with that use in 1673, and now the "character flaw" sense is considerably more popular than the original sword application.

Examples of foible in a Sentence

could tolerate my uncle's foibles because we loved him dearly

Recent Examples on the Web

The 200-plus-year-old prints paint a dark, satirical look at common foibles of society and themes of aristocratic and religious oppression. Trevor Fraser,, "Dalí Museum’s three new exhibits provide new perspectives," 13 June 2019 Who doesn’t love a heady dose of Noel Coward — especially one of his frothy, sophisticated comedies about the foibles of love in all its guises? Joanne Engelhardt, The Mercury News, "Theater review: Coward’s ‘Present Laughter’ opens at Pear Theatre," 12 June 2019 Unfortunately, the foibles of the generous are not always low-stakes. Dan Duray, Town & Country, "When Is a High-Maintenance Donor Not Worth the Trouble?," 20 May 2019 For all their foibles, which Ms. Orlean plainly savors, none of these early leaders kept the Los Angeles City Library from succeeding. Jane Kamensky, WSJ, "‘The Library Book’ Review: The People’s Palace," 11 Oct. 2018 Joanne Barkan has published in Dissent, The Guardian, and other publications about big philanthropy’s foibles, too. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "Against Big Philanthropy," 27 June 2018 Copper Harbor, for all its prototypey foibles, shows that the only thing keeping the industry from creating the next generation of computers is will and vision, not a lack of technological prowess. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "Intel is preparing for a dual-screen computer future," 18 Oct. 2018 But builders do admit to some foibles familiar to anyone who has built their own home. Katy Mclaughlin, WSJ, "What Luxury Home Builders Consider Worth the Splurge," 27 July 2017 Appearance and demeanor count for much; Zuckerberg will want to avoid the kind of tone-deaf foible the Big Three automakers made in 2008 when, while asking for a $25-billion taxpayer bailout, arrived in Washington on private jets. Jeffrey Fleishman,, "Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before Congress has the makings of riveting televised political drama," 9 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'foible.' 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 foible

circa 1648, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for foible

obsolete French (now faible), from obsolete foible weak, from Old French feble feeble

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Dictionary Entries near foible





foie gras



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Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for foible

The first known use of foible was circa 1648

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More Definitions for foible



English Language Learners Definition of foible

: a minor fault in someone's character or behavior


foi·​ble | \ ˈfȯi-bəl How to pronounce foible (audio) \

Kids Definition of foible

: an unimportant weakness or failing silly human foibles

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More from Merriam-Webster on foible

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for foible

Spanish Central: Translation of foible

Nglish: Translation of foible for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of foible for Arabic Speakers

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