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[vuhl-ner-uh-buh l] /ˈvʌl nər ə bəl/
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 forms
vulnerability, vulnerableness, noun
vulnerably, adverb
unvulnerable, adjective
Can be confused
venerable, vulnerable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for vulnerable
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Their vulnerable points are the attachment of the anterior limbs, and, of course, the eyes.

    The Desert World Arthur Mangin
  • If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most.

  • His eyes ran over the keys as if searching for the vulnerable, for the vital spot.

    The Patient Observer Simeon Strunsky
  • White Fang was in a rage, wickedly making his attack on the most vulnerable spot.

    White Fang Jack London
  • He knew how to hit the vulnerable points in the other, and they were often made the subject of attack.

    Beethoven George Alexander Fischer
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 Forms
vulnerability, vulnerableness, noun
vulnerably, adverb
Word Origin
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
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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
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