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[week] /wik/
adjective, weaker, weakest.
not strong; liable to yield, break, or collapse under pressure or strain; fragile; frail:
a weak fortress; a weak spot in armor.
lacking in bodily strength or healthy vigor, as from age or sickness; feeble; infirm:
a weak old man; weak eyes.
not having much political strength, governing power, or authority:
a weak nation; a weak ruler.
lacking in force, potency, or efficacy; impotent, ineffectual, or inadequate:
weak sunlight; a weak wind.
lacking in rhetorical or creative force or effectiveness:
a weak reply to the charges; one of the author's weakest novels.
lacking in logical or legal force or soundness:
a weak argument.
deficient in mental power, intelligence, or judgment:
a weak mind.
not having much moral strength or firmness, resolution, or force of character:
to prove weak under temptation; weak compliance.
deficient in amount, volume, loudness, intensity, etc.; faint; slight:
a weak current of electricity; a weak pulse.
deficient, lacking, or poor in something specified:
a hand weak in trumps; I'm weak in spelling.
deficient in the essential or usual properties or ingredients:
weak tea.
unstressed, as a syllable, vowel, or word.
(of Germanic verbs) inflected with suffixes, without inherited change of the root vowel, as English work, worked, or having a preterit ending in a dental, as English bring, brought.
(of Germanic nouns and adjectives) inflected with endings originally appropriate to stems terminating in -n, as the adjective alte in German der alte Mann (“the old man”).
(of wheat or flour) having a low gluten content or having a poor quality of gluten.
Photography. thin; not dense.
Commerce. characterized by a decline in prices:
The market was weak in the morning but rallied in the afternoon.
Origin of weak
1250-1300; Middle English weik < Old Norse veikr; cognate with Old English wāc, Dutch week, German weich; akin to Old English wīcan to yield, give way, Old Norse vīkja to move, turn, draw back, German weichen to yield
Related forms
overweak, adjective
overweakly, adverb
overweakness, noun
1. breakable, delicate. 2. senile, sickly, unwell, invalid. Weak, decrepit, feeble, weakly imply a lack of strength or of good health. Weak means not physically strong, because of extreme youth, old age, illness, etc.: weak after an attack of fever. Decrepit means old and broken in health to a marked degree: decrepit and barely able to walk. Feeble denotes much the same as weak, but connotes being pitiable or inferior: feeble and almost senile. Weakly suggests a long-standing sickly condition, a state of chronic bad health: A weakly child may become a strong adult. 4. ineffective. 6. unsound, ineffective, inadequate, illogical, inconclusive, unsustained, unsatisfactory, lame, vague. 7. unintelligent, simple, foolish, stupid, senseless, silly. 8. vacillating, wavering, unstable, irresolute, fluctuating, undecided, weak-kneed. 9. slender, slim, inconsiderable, flimsy, poor, trifling, trivial. 11. wanting, short, lacking.
1. strong. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for weak
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • My hope is weak that I shall ever again see you, yet it is possible.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • When the Kings were weak the nobles often managed to get hold of the State.

    Ancient Man Hendrik Willem van Loon
  • Would he be strong or weak; and what would be weakness, and what strength, in a position so strange?

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • For history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.

  • She had no affection for this selfish invalid, this weak, peevish bully.

British Dictionary definitions for weak


lacking in physical or mental strength or force; frail or feeble
liable to yield, break, or give way: a weak link in a chain
lacking in resolution or firmness of character
lacking strength, power, or intensity: a weak voice
lacking strength in a particular part: a team weak in defence
  1. not functioning as well as normal: weak eyes
  2. easily upset: a weak stomach
lacking in conviction, persuasiveness, etc: a weak argument
lacking in political or strategic strength: a weak state
lacking the usual, full, or desirable strength of flavour: weak tea
  1. denoting or belonging to a class of verbs, in certain languages including the Germanic languages, whose conjugation relies on inflectional endings rather than internal vowel gradation, as look, looks, looking, looked
  2. belonging to any part-of-speech class, in any of various languages, whose inflections follow the more regular of two possible patterns Compare strong (sense 13)
(of a syllable) not accented or stressed
(of a fuel-air mixture) containing a relatively low proportion of fuel Compare rich (sense 13)
(photog) having low density or contrast; thin
(of an industry, market, currency, securities, etc) falling in price or characterized by falling prices
Derived Forms
weakish, adjective
weakishly, adverb
weakishness, noun
Word Origin
Old English wāc soft, miserable; related to Old Saxon wēk, Old High German weih, Old Norse veikr
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 weak

c.1300, from Old Norse veikr "weak," cognate with Old English wac "weak, pliant, soft," from Proto-Germanic *waikwaz "yield," *wikanan "bend" (cf. Old Saxon wek, Swedish vek, Middle Dutch weec, Dutch week "weak, soft, tender," Old High German weih "yielding, soft," German weich "soft," from PIE root *weik- "to bend, wind" (see vicarious). Sense of "lacking authority" is first recorded early 15c.; that of "lacking moral strength" late 14c. Weak-kneed "wanting in resolve" is from 1870.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with weak
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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