\ˈfrāl \

Definition of frail 

1 : easily led into evil frail humanity

2 : easily broken or destroyed : fragile frail, open-cockpit biplanes …— Jonathan Weiner

3a : physically weak a frail old woman a frail voice

b : slight, unsubstantial smiled a minute frail smile— Raymond Chandler

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Other Words from frail

frailly \ ˈfrā(l)-​lē \ 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 crippling 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

Sentsov has lost about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) and is very frail, according to his lawyer. Washington Post, "Jailed Ukrainian filmmaker’s mother asks Putin to pardon him," 13 July 2018 The other recalls King’s principles in defending the unborn, Down syndrome and other disabled people, the frail elderly, and every life. Cornel West And, WSJ, "Dr. King’s Radical Biblical Vision," 5 Apr. 2018 My mother, frail but with a Pimm’s cocktail in hand, was among them. Hilary Howard, New York Times, "Braving the Queue, for Mom and Roger Federer," 6 July 2018 Friedrich, the youngest of the sons, was too frail to work in the vineyard. Kristine Phillips, Washington Post, "The story of Donald Trump’s grandfather, who came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor," 27 June 2018 Any guidance about when and how to limit, or stop, an older and increasingly frail family member from driving? Glenn Ruffenach, WSJ, "The Difficult Task of Taking the Car Keys Away From an Older Parent," 5 July 2018 The girl was frail and always hungry, Dmitriyev said in a recent interview. Washington Post, "New fears in Russia as researcher of Stalin purges arrested," 30 June 2018 Jackson had been ill for some time with an officially undisclosed condition, and had grown increasingly frail. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Joe Jackson, patriarch of Jackson family, dies at 89," 27 June 2018 With hospitals pushing patients out the door earlier, nursing homes are deluged with increasingly frail patients. Jordan Rau,, "Medicare takes aim at boomerang hospitalizations of nursing home patients," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'frail.' 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 frail

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for frail

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

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Statistics for frail

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for frail

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

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More Definitions for frail



English Language Learners Definition of frail

: having less than a normal amount of strength or force : very weak

: easily damaged or destroyed


\ˈfrāl \

Kids Definition of frail

: very delicate or weak a frail little child

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Comments on frail

What made you want to look up frail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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