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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The most vulnerable in our State and nation are often targeted for trafficking. Anchorage Daily News, 5 Aug. 2022 Marine scientists worry that these corals are some of the most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, including marine heat waves, coral bleaching and damaging waves, such as those generated during tropical cyclones. Rachel Pannett, Washington Post, 4 Aug. 2022 The Taliban’s harboring of Al-Zawahiri will likely deepen their isolation on the international stage and exacerbate the crisis, Gerges said, hurting the most vulnerable. Yuliya Talmazan, NBC News, 2 Aug. 2022 This renders the system vulnerable in wartime to even a few anti-satellite weapons. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 1 Aug. 2022 Is subsidizing Teslas a higher Democratic priority than protecting the vulnerable? Allysia Finley, WSJ, 1 Aug. 2022 Options, alternatives, and easy access are often luxuries for the most vulnerable among us. Daniel Greenleaf, Fortune, 28 July 2022 Government agencies are trying to protect the most vulnerable. Sammy Rothstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 28 July 2022 Giant sequoias were once considered largely impervious to fires but have become increasingly vulnerable in the face of intense fires fueled by drought and climate change. Christine Fernando, USA TODAY, 9 July 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of vulnerable was circa 1616

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Dictionary Entries Near vulnerable

vulned

vulnerable

vulnerary

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Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vulnerable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vulnerable. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for vulnerable

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

More from Merriam-Webster on vulnerable

Nglish: Translation of vulnerable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vulnerable for Arabic Speakers

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