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.
Did You Know?
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: 1605
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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