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 Driver is impressive as usual, but shows more warmth here as an everyman with foibles who is willing to go to desperate lengths to fight for his child and career. Brian Truitt, Detroit Free Press, "'Marriage Story' is emotionally devastating," 26 Nov. 2019 Any foibles/quirks or other personality traits that made your loved one extra special? NBC News, "How to write the perfect obituary, according to professional writers," 21 Sep. 2019 But pro-Brexit voters, who have overlooked many a Johnson foible, might not forgive him for that one. Washington Post, "Boris Johnson has four options to escape his Brexit mess. One of them is to go to jail.," 11 Sep. 2019 Everyone—including scientists—is susceptible to foibles like hindsight bias and confirmation bias. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "“I could’ve told you that” might have a useful role to play in science," 24 Oct. 2019 These characters bring their own foibles to bear on cases, and are willing to do whatever is necessary, morally permissible or not, to reinforce their version of events. J.t-j., The Economist, "The evolution of police interrogations on screen," 26 Sep. 2019 Every transaction has its own foibles, and these deals happened at different times, so the performances aren’t strictly comparable. Liam Denning | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Add $8 Billion to Oxy’s Cost for Anadarko," 23 May 2019 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

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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Statistics for foible

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Foible.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 16 December 2019.

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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

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