frail

adjective \ ˈfrāl \
Updated on: 11 Sep 2017

Definition of frail

1 :easily led into evil
  • frail humanity
2 :easily broken or destroyed :fragile
  • frail, open-cockpit biplanes …
  • —Jonathan Weiner
3 a :physically weak
  • a frail old woman
  • a frail voice
b :slight, unsubstantial
  • smiled a minute frail smile
  • —Raymond Chandler

frailly

play \ˈfrā(l)-lē\ adverb

frailness

noun

Examples of frail in a Sentence

  1. In his old age his health became increasingly frail.

  2. a small and frail ship

Recent Examples of frail from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of frail

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

FRAIL Defined for English Language Learners

frail

adjective

Definition of frail for English Language Learners

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

  • : easily damaged or destroyed


FRAIL Defined for Kids

frail

adjective \ ˈfrāl \

Definition of frail for Students

:very delicate or weak
  • a frail little child


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