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: 1300–50;Middle Englishfrail(e), frel(e) < Old French < Latinfragilisfragile
Synonyms 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.
Antonyms 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.
mid-14c., "morally weak," from O.Fr. frele, from L. 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.
n. a girl; a woman. (Underworld. Possibly rhyming slang twist and twirl = girl and frail frame = dame. Detective novels and movies.) : This good-looking twist comes over to the table and asks Lefty if he'd like to dance. , I'll shoot the frail if you don't hand it over!
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition. Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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