[ vuhl-ner-uh-buhl ]
See synonyms for: vulnerablevulnerabilityvulnerableness on

  1. capable of or susceptible to being attacked, damaged, or hurt: a vulnerable part of the body;vulnerable to predators;a company vulnerable to a hostile takeover.

  2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.: That is an argument vulnerable to refutation.He is vulnerable to bribery.

  1. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend:a vulnerable bridge.

  2. willing to show emotion or to allow one’s weaknesses to be seen or known: Men and boys are rarely seen as vulnerable.

  3. (of a person or population) needing supportive or protective social services and community resources because of advanced age, poverty, disability, etc.

  4. Bridge. having won one of the games of a rubber.

  5. Biology, Ecology. (of a threatened plant or animal species) likely to be classified endangered in the near future unless circumstances that threaten reproduction and survival improve, as categorized by the IUCN Red List: At least 15 percent of our vulnerable reptiles are turtles.Abbreviation: VU

Origin of vulnerable

First recorded in 1610–20; from Late Latin vulnerābilis “injurious, wounding,” equivalent to Latin vulnerā(re) “to wound” + -bilis; see -ble

Other words from vulnerable

  • vul·ner·a·bil·i·ty [vuhl-ner-uh-bil-i-tee], /ˌvʌl nər əˈbɪl ɪ ti/, vul·ner·a·ble·ness, noun
  • vul·ner·a·bly, adverb
  • un·vul·ner·a·ble, adjective

Words that may be confused with vulnerable Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use vulnerable in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for vulnerable


/ (ˈvʌlnərəbəl) /

  1. capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or hurt

  2. open to temptation, persuasion, censure, etc

  1. liable or exposed to disease, disaster, etc

  2. military liable or exposed to attack

  3. bridge (of a side who have won one game towards rubber) subject to increased bonuses or penalties

Origin of vulnerable

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

Derived forms of vulnerable

  • vulnerability or vulnerableness, noun
  • vulnerably, adverb

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