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

The fears of being vulnerable or bruising a partner’s ego can be high-key overwhelming. Gigi Engle, SELF, "The Case for Telling Your Partner Exactly How You Want to Feel During Sex," 8 May 2019 No region is entirely safe from such attacks, but South Asian democracies such as India and Sri Lanka appear particularly vulnerable. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "South Asia Is Islamic State’s New Target," 2 May 2019 This is all to say: Women represent a huge market, and in some ways, because of a lack of care options, a vulnerable one. Ciara Phelan, Allure, "What Is Femtech, and Is It the New Pink Tax?," 22 Apr. 2019 Soldiers inside tanks need to be able to drive their tanks and shoot at the enemy, but increased visibility makes tanks and tankers more vulnerable. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "All-Seeing HD Cameras Could Solve Tanks' Biggest Weakness," 17 Apr. 2019 But even Alabama faces some, especially on a defense that was uncharacteristically vulnerable late last season. John Zenor, The Seattle Times, "Nick Saban reloading defense with youthful Alabama team," 13 Apr. 2019 Olivia DeJonge as Elle Olivia is Elle, a dancer who is used to the structured, intense world of dance and becomes extremely vulnerable in her new circumstances. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Everything You Need to Know About Netflix's Newest Teen Drama "The Society"," 4 Apr. 2019 Keeping women pregnant keeps them vulnerable, and that keeps men in charge, which appeals to the many, many republicans who feel that masculinity is under threat right now. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Georgia's Six-Week Abortion Ban Claims to "Value Life"," 4 Apr. 2019 Gwyneth and Dax continued their conversation on the Goop podcast, where the duo discussed relationships, getting vulnerable, and what made GP decide to walk down the aisle a second time. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "Gwyneth Paltrow's Wedding Venue Was a Touching Tribute to Her Late Father, Bruce," 18 Mar. 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

11 May 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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