Word of the Day : January 5, 2015


adjective FAL-uh-bul


1 : liable to be erroneous

2 : capable of making a mistake

Did You Know?

Errare humanum est. That Latin expression translates into English as "To err is human." Of course, cynics might say that it is also human to deceive. The word fallible simultaneously recognizes both of these human character flaws. In modern usage, it refers to one's ability to err, but it descends from the Latin verb fallere, which means "to deceive." Fallible has been used to describe the potential for error since at least the 15th century. Other descendants of the deceptive fallere in English, all of which actually predate fallible, include fallacy (the earliest, now obsolete, meaning was "guile, trickery"), fault, false, and even fail and failure.


Though parts of it are well-written, the essay is marred by too many fallible generalizations.

"… [Atul] Gawande has combined his years of experience as a surgeon with his gift for fluid, seemingly effortless storytelling to remind readers that despite stunning technical advances, doctors are human-and as fallible as any of us." - Jennifer Day, Chicago Tribune, October 10, 2014

Test Your Memory

Fill in the blank in this sentence from our December 27th Word of the Day: "The athlete's admission of using steroids earned her much __________ from fans." The answer is …


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