[vuhl-ner-uh-buh l]


capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body.
open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: an argument vulnerable to refutation; He is vulnerable to bribery.
(of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend: a vulnerable bridge.
Bridge. having won one of the games of a rubber.

Origin of vulnerable

1595–1605; < Late Latin vulnerābilis, equivalent to Latin vulnerā(re) to wound + -bilis -ble; see vulnerary
Related formsvul·ner·a·bil·i·ty, vul·ner·a·ble·ness, nounvul·ner·a·bly, adverbun·vul·ner·a·ble, adjective
Can be confusedvenerable vulnerable Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for vulnerable

Contemporary Examples of vulnerable

Historical Examples of vulnerable

  • If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most.

  • White Fang was in a rage, wickedly making his attack on the most vulnerable spot.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • If Imogen is vulnerable, this is the quarter from which she must be approached.


    William Godwin

  • If there is a weakness here, if the ranch is vulnerable—we should learn what it is.

    The Bluff of the Hawk

    Anthony Gilmore

  • Something tells me they are vulnerable in ways we haven't guessed at.

British Dictionary definitions for vulnerable



capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or hurt
open to temptation, persuasion, censure, etc
liable or exposed to disease, disaster, etc
military liable or exposed to attack
bridge (of a side who have won one game towards rubber) subject to increased bonuses or penalties
Derived Formsvulnerability or vulnerableness, nounvulnerably, adverb

Word Origin for vulnerable

C17: from Late Latin vulnerābilis, from Latin vulnerāre to wound, from vulnus a wound
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

Word Origin and History for vulnerable

c.1600, from Late Latin vulnerabilis "wounding," from Latin vulnerare "to wound," from vulnus (genitive vulneris) "wound," perhaps related to vellere "pluck, to tear."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper