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 No filmmaker has a better handle on the ridiculous foibles of the English upper-middle class. David Sims, The Atlantic, "30 Underrated Films You Should Revisit," 10 Apr. 2020 In a world obsessed with human foibles (and books about them), why wouldn’t politicians believe that the public—cue Jack Nicholson—can’t handle the truth? David Wolman, Wired, "Can the Public Be Trusted in a Pandemic?," 27 Mar. 2020 Yet, while Howard trafficked in the foibles and misdeeds of marquee names, questions about his own conduct faced internal scrutiny in 2012. Los Angeles Times, "Howard’s end: Why infamous tabloid editor exited longtime National Enquirer publisher," 22 Apr. 2020 The Canadian-American humorist died in 2012 at the age of 47 and his essays always crackled with zinging observations about other people’s foibles, but most often his own. Maris Kreizman, WSJ, "In These 10 Books, the Blissful Pleasure of an Escapist Read," 16 Apr. 2020 But better to shrug off old friends’ harmless foibles than assign them mean labels. Philip Galanes, New York Times, "‘At Least I Got You a Gift’," 20 Feb. 2020 For Lauren Greenfield, a film-maker and artist who has spent most of her career chronicling the foibles of the wealthy, Mrs Marcos is the perfect subject. Y.f., The Economist, "“The Kingmaker” documents the rise, fall and rise of Imelda Marcos," 7 Nov. 2019 For decades, David has built a comic persona around the little foibles that come with in-person human interaction. David Sims, The Atlantic, "We’re All Larry Davids Now," 3 Apr. 2020 Consistently intelligent and insightful, particularly about human foibles, each season held enough surprising turns and unexpected twists to keep a typical sitcom running for twice as many seasons. Ars Technica, "Review: It’s a wonderful afterlife in The Good Place’s bittersweet finale," 3 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for foible

Time Traveler

The first known use of foible was circa 1648

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Cite this Entry

“Foible.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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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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