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
With the supply of fresh air reduced, a small or vulnerable infant essentially stops breathing and suffocates.
Half of those refugees are children, who are especially vulnerable.
President Barack Obama visited just a few months before his 2012 reelection bid, with those same states seen as possibly vulnerable to native Michigander Mitt Romney.
While pessimists argue that Ping An is vulnerable as Chinese regulators crack down on the nation’s financial industry, some of the most prescient stock pickers in Hong Kong disagree.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A massive new study in three European countries finds a common pesticide dramatically weakens already vulnerable honeybee hives.
Giraffes are especially vulnerable to population decline because of their life history.
For a long while, our artificial companions will be vulnerable — more pet than threat.
The patients, providers, and businesses participating in state medical marijuana programs will no longer be in violation of federal law and vulnerable to federal prosecution.
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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