: easily led into evil
frail humanity
: easily broken or destroyed : fragile
frail, open-cockpit biplanes …Jonathan Weiner
: physically weak
a frail old woman
a frail voice
: slight, unsubstantial
smiled a minute frail smileRaymond Chandler
frailly adverb
frailness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for frail

weak, feeble, frail, fragile, infirm, decrepit mean not strong enough to endure strain, pressure, or strenuous effort.

weak applies to deficiency or inferiority in strength or power of any sort.

felt weak after the surgery

feeble suggests extreme weakness inviting pity or contempt.

a feeble attempt to walk

frail implies delicacy and slightness of constitution or structure.

a frail teenager unable to enjoy sports

fragile suggests frailty and brittleness unable to resist rough usage.

a reclusive poet too fragile for the rigors of this world

infirm suggests instability, unsoundness, and insecurity due to old age or disabling illness.

infirm residents requiring constant care

decrepit implies being worn-out or broken-down from long use or old age.

the dowager's decrepit retainers

Examples of frail in a Sentence

In his old age his health became increasingly frail. a small and frail ship
Recent Examples on the Web The shelter sends some to veterinary hospitals, but others that are in need of medical attention are too frail to be transported. Mauricio Savarese, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 May 2024 When her own mom had gotten too frail to live on her own, my mom had taken her in, giving her my childhood bedroom. Sarah Stankorb, Longreads, 9 May 2024 Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in the young, frail or elderly. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 8 May 2024 Like the Lake Merritt Lodge, the new site will shelter older and medically frail homeless people while providing case management services, on-site security and help finding permanent housing. Ethan Varian, The Mercury News, 8 May 2024 Her decision to remain Queen until the last possible moment, frail but still shaking hands with the disastrous Prime Minister Liz Truss, was personally commendable but has left Charles III with the impossible task of inheriting a legacy too large for anyone to bear. Alexander Larman, TIME, 5 May 2024 Though many residents, like the man who attacked Patient 2, have long histories of violence, others have grown old and frail under state supervision, and are incapable of defending themselves from such aggression. Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald, 3 May 2024 Perhaps one shudders to bring a frail thing into the reaches of such shadows. Mara Van Der Lugt, TIME, 30 Apr. 2024 Francis, who is 87 and in increasingly frail health, also talked about his funeral plans, confirming plans to simplify burial rites for him and his successors. Reuters, NBC News, 2 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'frail.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English frele, frayle, borrowed from Anglo-French frel, fraile, going back to Latin fragilis "liable to break, weak" — more at fragile

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of frail was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near frail

Cite this Entry

“Frail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/frail. Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: easily led into evil
frail humanity
: not having normal strength or force
spoke in a frail voice
frailly adverb
frailness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on frail

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