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[freyl] /freɪl/
adjective, frailer, frailest.
having delicate health; not robust; weak:
My grandfather is rather frail now.
easily broken or destroyed; fragile.
morally weak; easily tempted.
Older Slang: Sometimes Offensive. a term used to refer to a girl or woman.
Origin of frail1
1300-50; Middle English frail(e), frel(e) < Old French < Latin fragilis fragile
Related forms
frailly, adverb
frailness, noun
1, 2. feeble; breakable, frangible. Frail, brittle, fragile imply a delicacy or weakness of substance or construction. Frail applies particularly to health and immaterial things: a frail constitution; frail hopes. Brittle implies a hard material that snaps or breaks to pieces easily: brittle as glass. Fragile implies that the object must be handled carefully to avoid breakage or damage: fragile bric-a-brac.
1, 2. sturdy.
Usage note
This term is sometimes perceived as insulting or condescending when used to refer to a woman, since it reinforces the stereotype of a weak female. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for frailer
Historical Examples
  • He looked leaner and frailer and less robustious than of old.

    The Prairie Mother Arthur Stringer
  • He looked wistful, and frailer at the end of the evening than he had at the beginning.

    Play the Game! Ruth Comfort Mitchell
  • The other man, who was much younger and frailer, had a thin, clean-shaven face.

    Dubliners James Joyce
  • Straws were straws, and the frailer they were the harder she clutched them.

  • Then, out of sympathy for the frailer girl, she too shuddered.

    A Ticket to Adventure Roy J. Snell
  • There had been, however, frailer things than china in the house in Pepyss time.

    Haunted London Walter Thornbury
  • She alone knew how frail the old man was—frailer by far than his years.

    Aaron's Rod D. H. Lawrence
  • It does seem as if the larger I got the frailer I was inside.

    Mrs. Tree Laura E. Richards
  • He would not have tried a frailer temper so, but to provoke hers was incense to his own.

    The Missourian

    Eugene P. (Eugene Percy) Lyle
  • She looked older and frailer than when he had seen her last.


    Elizabeth Kent
British Dictionary definitions for frailer


physically weak and delicate
fragile: a frail craft
easily corrupted or tempted
Derived Forms
frailly, adverb
frailness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French frele, from Latin fragilis, fragile


a rush basket for figs or raisins
a quantity of raisins or figs equal to between 50 and 75 pounds
Word Origin
C13: from Old French fraiel, of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for frailer



mid-14c., "morally weak," from Old French fraile "weak, frail, sickly, infirm" (Modern French frêle), from Latin fragilis "easily broken" (see fragility). Sense of "liable to break" is first recorded in English late 14c. The U.S. slang noun meaning "a woman" is attested from 1908.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for frailer



A woman, esp a young woman: in persuading frails to divulge what they know (1905+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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