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
vulnerabilityplay \ˌvəl-n(ə-)rə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun
vulnerablenessplay \ˈvəl-n(ə-)rə-bəl-nəs, ˈvəl-nər-bəl-\ noun
vulnerablyplay \ˈvəl-n(ə-)rə-blē, ˈvəl-nər-blē\ adverb
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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.
Recent Examples of vulnerable from the Web
A historically vulnerable part of the shore whose beaches are prone to worse-than-normal erosion, the community was devastated by the 2012 storm.
In addition to being more vulnerable to violence and accidents, the homeless population’s lack of stability also makes managing chronic diseases more difficult, Gilvar said.
The story’s crescendo might be a vulnerable detail revealed in the student’s writing, or sometimes a moment of connection, like the time my mentor-teacher and I, at lunch, asked a drug dealer to tell us about his life.
There's too much damage that has been done already by leaving Strickland vulnerable.
Gladys Carrión, the commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services, retired, but was generally perceived to have been forced out after fiercely critical news coverage of the deaths of vulnerable children.
These people, our sources, are incredibly vulnerable, lacking in most cases the financial and legal resources that are available to most journalists.
Nevertheless, South Asia’s second-largest economy is starting to look vulnerable with its current account deficit tripling to $7.3 billion in the ten months through April.
Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, told Congress this month that that deception left Flynn vulnerable to being blackmailed by the Russians.
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.
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."
Origin and Etymology of vulnerable
Late Latin vulnerabilis, from Latin vulnerare to wound, from vulner-, vulnus wound; probably akin to Latin vellere to pluck, Greek oulē wound
First Known Use: 1605See Words from the same year
VULNERABLE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of vulnerable for English Language Learners
: easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally
: open to attack, harm, or damage
VULNERABLE Defined for Kids
Definition of vulnerable for Students
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.
Medical Definition of vulnerable
: capable of being hurt : susceptible to injury or disease the liver is itself vulnerable to nutritional impairment—Journal of the American Medical Association
vulnerability\ˌvəln-(ə-)rə-ˈbil-ət-ē\play noun plural
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