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

Synonyms & Antonyms for foible



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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

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In the 1600s, English speakers borrowed the French word foible to refer to the weakest part of the sword or foil, that part being the portion between the middle and the pointed tip. 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, which gave 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 the 17th century, 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 With every Michigan foible, Georgia’s offense grew bolder and more explosive. Laine Higgins, WSJ, 1 Jan. 2022 Jones happily recites the joke using the other word, and the two men laugh, having been caught in a foible of their profession. Los Angeles Times, 26 Oct. 2021 At a time when any foible can now be airbrushed, edited, filtered or just plain omitted at will, the idea of imperfection as asset is a refreshing one. Courtney Lichterman, Robb Report, 27 May 2021 This is how a technological wonder like the USS Ford gets converted from an alliance-boosting example of American technological prowess at sea to an embarrassing, over-budget disaster—a geopolitical foible that only benefits American rivals. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 13 May 2021 No filmmaker has a better handle on the ridiculous foibles of the English upper-middle class. David Sims, The Atlantic, 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, 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, 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, 16 Apr. 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

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The first known use of foible was circa 1648

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Dictionary Entries Near foible



foie gras

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Last Updated

10 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Foible.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on foible

Nglish: Translation of foible for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of foible for Arabic Speakers


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