1
: easily led into evil
frail humanity
2
: easily broken or destroyed : fragile
frail, open-cockpit biplanes …Jonathan Weiner
3
a
: physically weak
a frail old woman
a frail voice
b
: slight, unsubstantial
smiled a minute frail smileRaymond Chandler
frailly adverb
frailness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for frail

weak, feeble, frail, fragile, infirm, decrepit mean not strong enough to endure strain, pressure, or strenuous effort.

weak applies to deficiency or inferiority in strength or power of any sort.

felt weak after the surgery

feeble suggests extreme weakness inviting pity or contempt.

a feeble attempt to walk

frail implies delicacy and slightness of constitution or structure.

a frail teenager unable to enjoy sports

fragile suggests frailty and brittleness unable to resist rough usage.

a reclusive poet too fragile for the rigors of this world

infirm suggests instability, unsoundness, and insecurity due to old age or crippling illness.

infirm residents requiring constant care

decrepit implies being worn-out or broken-down from long use or old age.

the dowager's decrepit retainers

Example Sentences

In his old age his health became increasingly frail. a small and frail ship
Recent Examples on the Web If one man can block the industrial development of what is, for now, the world’s hegemon, then its hegemony must be very frail indeed. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 15 July 2022 Anyway, the original Desdemona would have been too frail to withstand the filming process, and the slight stains—markers of a life once lived—not polished enough for the silver screen. Alice Newbold, Vogue, 29 Apr. 2022 Some of the residents who’d lost antibodies were too frail to receive the news themselves, so the facility’s head nurse sent emails to their families. Chico Harlan And Mia Alberti, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Oct. 2021 Some of the residents who’d lost antibodies were too frail to receive the news themselves, so the facility’s head nurse sent emails to their families. Chico Harlan And Mia Alberti, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Oct. 2021 Some of the residents who’d lost antibodies were too frail to receive the news themselves, so the facility’s head nurse sent emails to their families. Chico Harlan And Mia Alberti, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Oct. 2021 Some of the residents who’d lost antibodies were too frail to receive the news themselves, so the facility’s head nurse sent emails to their families. Chico Harlan And Mia Alberti, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Oct. 2021 Some of the residents who’d lost antibodies were too frail to receive the news themselves, so the facility’s head nurse sent emails to their families. Chico Harlan And Mia Alberti, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Oct. 2021 Some of the residents who’d lost antibodies were too frail to receive the news themselves, so the facility’s head nurse sent emails to their families. Chico Harlan And Mia Alberti, Anchorage Daily News, 1 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'frail.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English frele, frayle, borrowed from Anglo-French frel, fraile, going back to Latin fragilis "liable to break, weak" — more at fragile

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of frail was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near frail

Cite this Entry

“Frail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/frail. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

frail

adjective
1
: easily led into evil
frail humanity
2
3
: not having normal strength or force
spoke in a frail voice
frailly adverb
frailness noun

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