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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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 British satirist Chris Morris’ 2010 directorial debut, Four Lions, explored the foibles of a group of incompetent wannabe Islamic terrorists. Christian Holub,, "The FBI hilariously creates its own enemies in The Day Shall Come trailer," 21 Aug. 2019 Even the foibles of an extremely privileged community such as Greenwich, ripe for cheap shots, aren’t overplayed. John Donvan, WSJ, "‘The Class’ Review: Science-Fair Confidential," 16 Dec. 2018 Brügger cops to his own foibles as an investigative journalist. Mark Olsenstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Indie Focus: Taking off with ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’," 16 Aug. 2019 Heroes like the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man stood apart from DC’s Superman because of their flaws and foibles, their tendencies to bicker and make mistakes, and their potential for change. David Sims, The Atlantic, "How Marvel Is Rewriting Its World Order," 24 Apr. 2018 But Bea’s voice as a writer is distinct, and Aine’s foibles and compulsions resist being lumped into a pile with other cheekily traumatized comic heroines. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "This Way Up Is a Bountiful Binge Watch," 22 Aug. 2019 The president's going to go after every one of your personal foibles. NBC News, "Aug. 18, 2019 - Larry Kudlow, Beto O'Rourke and Mark Sanford," 18 Aug. 2019 Some are skillful in evoking examples of important qualities and charming foibles. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, "Miss Manners: When funerals turn into entertainment," 15 July 2019 Has anyone had any luck gathering facts that might shed some light on why the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Minnesota’s largest public agency by expenditures, has been unable to explain their recent foibles? Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: Hoping the vast majority of our legislators will be replaced," 31 July 2019

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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Statistics for foible

Last Updated

25 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for foible

The first known use of foible was circa 1648

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More Definitions for foible


How to pronounce foible (audio)

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

Comments on foible

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


to engage in dissolute behavior

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