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 vulnerable (audio) \ noun
vulnerableness \ ˈvəl-​n(ə-​)rə-​bəl-​nəs How to pronounce vulnerable (audio) , ˈvəl-​nər-​bəl-​ \ noun
vulnerably \ ˈvəl-​n(ə-​)rə-​blē How to pronounce vulnerable (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 The loss comes at a particularly vulnerable time for Lyons, whose party split is between those who share his ideological bent and more moderate establishment Republicans. BostonGlobe.com, 7 June 2021 But people with drug or alcohol addictions have been particularly vulnerable to its effects, in some cases struggling to keep a hold of an already difficult recovery process. oregonlive, 6 June 2021 Yet this growing population is traditionally shut out of the housing aid system, which regards them as less vulnerable because, technically, they are housed. Jingnan Peng, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 June 2021 Vanderhoff said that people 65 and older, many of whom have chronic health conditions, are still particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and should be vaccinated to protect themselves. Terry Demio, The Enquirer, 2 June 2021 The work of disaster relief, compounded by the pandemic, also disproportionately impacts regions of the world that are particularly vulnerable to this dual crisis. Petra Nemcova, Fortune, 1 June 2021 Twitter is particularly vulnerable in India because of the headquarters' existence. Arkansas Online, 1 June 2021 Adolescents, who are often highly invested in and sensitive to external approval and feedback, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of social validation. Washington Post, 28 May 2021 The AAPLs and MSFTs of the world have often led the broader market higher the last few years, and could be less vulnerable then smaller Tech firms if interest rates do start to rise. Jj Kinahan, Forbes, 26 May 2021

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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Time Traveler for vulnerable

Time Traveler

The first known use of vulnerable was circa 1616

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Last Updated

10 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vulnerable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vulnerable. Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.

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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 vulnerable (audio) \ noun, plural vulnerabilities

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