noun foi·ble \ ˈfȯi-bəl \
|Updated on: 5 Jul 2018

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

foible was our Word of the Day on 01/16/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of foible in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples of foible from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of foible

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

FOIBLE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of foible for English Language Learners

  • : a minor fault in someone's character or behavior

FOIBLE Defined for Kids


noun foi·ble \ ˈfȯi-bəl \

Definition of foible for Students

: an unimportant weakness or failing
  • silly human foibles

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