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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web At core, this is a question of helping the most vulnerable among us. BostonGlobe.com, 20 June 2021 As coming waves of inflation will demonstrate, the fundamentals—and not the latest federal government initiative—will most directly characterize and affect the economic well-being of the most economically vulnerable in our country. WSJ, 20 June 2021 Rules designed to protect the nation’s most vulnerable from COVID-19 are still being enforced even though 75% of nursing home residents are now vaccinated and infections and deaths have plummeted. Michael Rubinkam, chicagotribune.com, 19 June 2021 But if the vulnerable aren’t coming, some couples might relent. Washington Post, 19 June 2021 Rules designed to protect the nation’s most vulnerable from COVID-19 are still being enforced even though 75% of nursing home residents are now vaccinated and infections and deaths have plummeted. Michael Rubinkam, ajc, 19 June 2021 Four areas of spending most vulnerable to the pandemic - education, hotels, recreation, and airlines and other transportation - also happen to be categories that are dominated by higher earners, according to a recent analysis by the New York Fed. Andrew Van Dam And Heather Long Washington Post, Star Tribune, 18 June 2021 For the most vulnerable chronically homeless individuals, though, a permanent home in a community with wraparound services is the right fit, Flynn said. Taylor Stevens, The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 June 2021 The state began vaccinating older adults, the group considered most vulnerable to COVID-19 complications, in late January. Taylor Deville, baltimoresun.com, 18 June 2021

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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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

vulgate

vulgus

vulned

vulnerable

vulnerary

vulpecidal

vulpecide

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Statistics for vulnerable

Last Updated

22 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vulnerable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vulnerable. Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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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 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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