\ ˈfrāl How to pronounce frail (audio) \

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 How to pronounce frailly (audio) \ 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 Testing 700 residents, many of whom are immobile, frail and elderly, also takes time. Sarah Ravani,, "Coronavirus testing slow to come to nursing homes, despite 35% of COVID-19 deaths," 19 May 2020 In this way, the world becomes an egg: small and frail but otherwise perfect, like the start of everything. Celeste Sloman, National Geographic, "It’s a Small World," 1 Apr. 2020 Those housing the most frail are disinfecting common areas more regularly, stocking up on masks and thermometers and barring visitors who could pose... Arian Campo-flores, WSJ, "Florida Senior Communities Try to Maintain Normalcy While Preparing for Coronavirus," 16 Mar. 2020 The homes are populated largely by frail men and women, some of them veterans of World War II and Korea, and many from the Vietnam War era. Dan Morain, Los Angeles Times, "Meet the 73-year-old surgeon working to keep California veterans safe from COVID-19," 10 May 2020 Nursing home residents, most of whom are frail or elderly and have multiple health problems are particularly susceptible to the virus. Deborah Yetter, The Courier-Journal, "Ban on nursing home visitors wearing on families, worrying advocates amid coronavirus," 18 Apr. 2020 Our Lady of the Angels Convent was designed as a haven of peace and prayer in a suburb of Milwaukee, a place where aging, frail nuns could rest after spending their lives taking care of others. Julie Bosman, New York Times, "After Decades of Service, Five Nuns Die as Virus Sweeps Through Convent," 30 Apr. 2020 But the true toll among the 1 million mostly frail and elderly people who live in such facilities is likely much higher, experts say, because most state counts don’t include those who died without ever being tested for COVID-19. Anchorage Daily News, "Nursing home deaths soar past 3,300 in alarming surge," 12 Apr. 2020 Those least likely to recover seem to be frail older patients with other preexisting illnesses such as COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] or heart disease. Judith Graham, Scientific American, "What Recovery From COVID-19 Looks Like," 11 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for frail

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for frail

Last Updated

15 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Frail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for frail


How to pronounce frail (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of frail

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


\ ˈfrāl How to pronounce frail (audio) \

Kids Definition of frail

: very delicate or weak a frail little child

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More from Merriam-Webster on frail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for frail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with frail

Spanish Central: Translation of frail

Nglish: Translation of frail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of frail for Arabic Speakers

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