vulnerable

adjective
vul·​ner·​a·​ble | \ ˈvəl-n(ə-)rə-bəl How to pronounce vulnerable (audio) , ˈvəl-nər-bəl\

Definition of vulnerable

1 : capable of being physically or emotionally wounded
2 : open to attack or damage : assailable vulnerable to criticism
3 : liable to increased penalties but entitled to increased bonuses after winning a game in contract bridge

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Other Words from vulnerable

vulnerability \ ˌvəl-​n(ə-​)rə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce vulnerability (audio) \ noun
vulnerableness \ ˈvəl-​n(ə-​)rə-​bəl-​nəs How to pronounce vulnerableness (audio) , ˈvəl-​nər-​bəl-​ \ noun
vulnerably \ ˈvəl-​n(ə-​)rə-​blē How to pronounce vulnerably (audio) , ˈvəl-​nər-​blē \ adverb

The History of Vulnerable

Vulnerable is ultimately derived from the Latin noun vulnus ("wound"). "Vulnus" led to the Latin verb vulnerare, meaning "to wound," and then to the Late Latin adjective vulnerabilis, which became "vulnerable" in English in the early 1600s. "Vulnerable" originally meant "capable of being physically wounded" or "having the power to wound" (the latter is now obsolete), but since the late 1600s, it has also been used figuratively to suggest a defenselessness against non-physical attacks. In other words, someone (or something) can be vulnerable to criticism or failure as well as to literal wounding. When it is used figuratively, "vulnerable" is often followed by the preposition "to."

Examples of vulnerable in a Sentence

He was very vulnerable after his divorce. The troops were in a vulnerable position. The fort was undefended and vulnerable.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Stewart and Javid were seen as the most vulnerable. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "Rory Stewart, the Insurgent Candidate for Prime Minister, Soars Up and Out," 19 June 2019 Facebook also plans to drastically reduce money transfer fees and transaction fees through Calibra, a welcome move in an industry that has historically preyed on the financially vulnerable. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Facebook confirms it will launch a cryptocurrency called Libra in 2020," 18 June 2019 Rainy weather can sicken gypsy moths and box elder bugs, making them more vulnerable to disease. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Yeah, we know it's been cold and rainy in Wisconsin. Blame the jet stream.," 17 June 2019 The outcome illustrates the ways in which online health misinformation can sway not only those on the fringe but also authorities, including doctors and the police, who are charged with protecting the vulnerable. Petra Cahill, NBC News, "U.S.-Iran tensions, Sarah Sanders & Toronto Raptors win first NBA title: The Morning Rundown," 14 June 2019 Prosecutors say the son of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow felt empowered by his fame to abuse the most vulnerable. Julie Watson, chicagotribune.com, "Former NFL star Kellen Winslow Jr. convicted of raping 58-year-old homeless woman in California," 10 June 2019 But this show has taught me that I'm allowed to be vulnerable. Samantha Incorvaia, azcentral, "Scottsdale woman on 'MTV's The Real World': 'I've got to work through all the trauma'," 8 June 2019 The Tacoma Refugee Choir formed to reach out to the most vulnerable. Longreads, "The Top 5 Longreads of the Week," 30 May 2019 Secure all doors on your property, especially garage doors, which are usually the most vulnerable. Michele Petry, House Beautiful, "The First Named Storm of Hurricane Season Has Arrived," 21 May 2019

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

circa 1616, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vulnerable

Late Latin vulnerabilis, from Latin vulnerare to wound, from vulner-, vulnus wound; probably akin to Latin vellere to pluck, Greek oulē wound

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Dictionary Entries near vulnerable

vulgate

vulgus

vulned

vulnerable

vulnerary

vulpecidal

vulpecide

Statistics for vulnerable

Last Updated

22 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vulnerable

The first known use of vulnerable was circa 1616

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More Definitions for vulnerable

vulnerable

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of vulnerable

: easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally
: open to attack, harm, or damage

vulnerable

adjective
vul·​ner·​a·​ble | \ ˈvəl-nə-rə-bəl How to pronounce vulnerable (audio) \

Kids Definition of vulnerable

1 : capable of being easily hurt or injured The patient is vulnerable to infection.
2 : open to attack or damage The troops were in a vulnerable position.

vulnerable

adjective
vul·​ner·​a·​ble | \ ˈvəln-(ə-)rə-bəl, ˈvəl-nər-bəl How to pronounce vulnerable (audio) \

Medical Definition of vulnerable

: capable of being hurt : susceptible to injury or disease the liver is itself vulnerable to nutritional impairmentJournal of the American Medical Association

Other Words from vulnerable

vulnerability \ ˌvəln-​(ə-​)rə-​ˈbil-​ət-​ē How to pronounce vulnerability (audio) \ noun, plural vulnerabilities

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