Definition of frail in English:



  • 1(of a person) weak and delicate.

    ‘his small, frail body’
    ‘she looked frail and vulnerable’
    • ‘We are bombarded with images of elderly people being frail and sickly.’
    • ‘As a child in Germany he was frail and sickly, and because of this he became obsessed with his body image.’
    • ‘Now the frail pensioner - who has recently undergone a hip replacement operation - says she doesn't know how she will cope until she collects her next pension.’
    • ‘A woman who watched her frail mother lie in agony after she developed bedsores at a private care home has vowed to help prevent elderly and immobile patients from having to endure the same pain.’
    • ‘She added that had it been an elderly or frail person who was attacked, the whole situation could have been far worse.’
    • ‘No one said anything but it was obvious that the whole village was thinking that if those strong healthy people tried and failed what chance could a small frail woman have.’
    • ‘The frail woman thanked the people who came to meet her and honour her father as well.’
    • ‘That would mean each vulnerable member of society, from frail pensioner to neglected child, being given the time and care they needed.’
    • ‘For frail people in the community, frequent reviews and adjustments of their care plans are likely to be needed.’
    • ‘It can cause infections, especially among elderly or frail people.’
    • ‘Microsurgery and improved chemotherapy have made treatment less risky, and therefore an option for frail patients.’
    • ‘They will be frail people with lung disease, and most will never know that it was influenza which pushed them off the edge.’
    • ‘He was desperately frail, too weak to move his limbs but still strong enough to let out that cry which tears at every human heart.’
    • ‘Certainly given the difficult start he had in life it was indeed a miracle that he was able to achieve so much but, however, he remained a frail person all his life.’
    • ‘Carers often feel stressed and isolated and some have given up their own careers and friends to look after a sick or frail family member, friend or a child with disabilities.’
    • ‘During the day the bus takes vulnerable and frail people on shopping trips and outings.’
    • ‘Doctors have been trying to build up the frail boy's strength before any attempts are made to fix his swollen heart - the result of a birth defect.’
    • ‘Many private homes have closed, being unable to meet the standards, disrupting the lives of many elderly and very frail people.’
    • ‘He was always treated by his parents as the baby of the family and, rather surprisingly, they considered him a sickly and frail child when it appears that this was not the case.’
    • ‘The 90-year-old widow still kept lots of the old records she used to play at dance clubs all over the area, even after she was too frail to dance herself.’
    infirm, weak, weakened, feeble, enfeebled, debilitated, incapacitated, crippled, wasted
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    1. 1.1 Easily damaged or broken; weak.
      ‘the balcony is frail’
      ‘the country's frail economy’
      • ‘To bridge a gap is not to eliminate it; some bridges are robust and reliable but others are frail, brittle, and easily undone by outside circumstances.’
      • ‘The frail economies and volatile politics of some Pacific countries were also a concern for the leaders.’
      • ‘All of humanity there, frail and complicated and beautiful.’
      • ‘Returning to the comfortable confines and relative tranquillity of his bedroom armed with just a keyboard, rickety drum machine and a guitar Ted started to write frail pop moments.’
      • ‘Markets will continue to wait for war and, in the process, further slow down an already frail economy.’
      • ‘With the numerous difficulties the country is experiencing due to the frail economy, Zambia has depended on such close allies to surmount her difficulties.’
      • ‘The country's administrative capabilities and public health services have remained frail and ineffective.’
      • ‘Yet at the same time, it is so frail that one small piece of magnet, held nearby, can distort it totally.’
      • ‘Reviewers and critics frequently refuse to be honest about Australian movies because they believe this will damage the frail home industry.’
      fragile, breakable, easily broken, easily damaged, delicate, flimsy, insubstantial
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    2. 1.2archaic Weak in character or morals.
      • ‘If you use it then you will likely to be perceived as brave or the opposite of coward or frail.’
      • ‘That's what public relations propaganda is all about - conning frail, vain humans.’
      • ‘People are frail and make stupid mistakes and one kiss in a bar is not the end of the world, especially when she feels so bad about it.’
      weak, easily led, easily tempted, susceptible, impressionable, malleable, vulnerable, defenceless, impotent
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dated, informal
  • A woman.

    • ‘Cosmetic manufacturers will never go out of business because the frails will always want to look like portraits of the women they believe we dream about.’
    lady, girl, member of the fair sex, member of the gentle sex, female
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Middle English: from Old French fraile, from Latin fragilis (see fragile).