Definition of debility in US English:



  • Physical weakness, especially as a result of illness.

    ‘most of the cases presented with general debility, muscle weakness, and weight loss’
    • ‘Prolonged immobilization, such as may occur with hospitalization, trauma, or general debility, is one risk factor.’
    • ‘A small or weak pulse indicates general debility and possible anemia.’
    • ‘Age, debility, poverty and illness were often factors that led to a favorable decision.’
    • ‘Heart disease in a leading cause of death and debility among our canine friends.’
    • ‘And yet, 40 percent of us will die after a period of protracted debility and feeble dementia stretching on average for some seven to 10 years.’
    • ‘She will remember her father, who served in both world wars, and whose life was fore-shortened by nervous debility brought on by his experiences.’
    • ‘The symptoms were of severe general debility and vitamin deficiency.’
    • ‘Furthermore, AIDS typically does not kill its victims immediately but subjects them to a prolonged period of gradually mounting debility and incapacity.’
    • ‘Coronary Artery Disease is a major cause of debility and death in the United States and in other developed nations.’
    • ‘John Andrews, Minister of Finance, was born in the same year as Craig and, despite clear signs of physical debility, was to be the Prime Minister's successor.’
    • ‘When I began wondering about what it's like to get older, I couldn't find much good, popular writing about it that is not focused on decline, debility and death.’
    • ‘On one level he clearly wants to overcome his debility, and live comic performance is the extraordinary way in which he has chosen to do that.’
    • ‘General debility because of long working hours, and low and infrequent intake of food and nutrition’
    • ‘It is just as meaningful to speak of levels of vitality and healthfulness as of debility and infirmity.’
    • ‘Symptoms of chronic intoxication include anorexia, gastrointestinal disturbances, debility, confusion, dermatitis, menstrual disorders, anemia, convulsions, and alopecia.’
    • ‘And at the extremes, there are certainly correlations between advanced age and debility that increase the risk of complications.’
    • ‘Many, though not all, cases resulting in debility stemmed from chronic diarrhea or dysentery.’
    • ‘He appears to have some sort of age-related mental debility.’
    • ‘He is now, at 79, battling the increasing debility of his body, which is failing under the invasion of Parkinson's disease.’
    • ‘For months I had suffered unexplained pain, weight loss, and increased debility.’
    frailty, weakness, feebleness, enfeeblement, enervation, devitalization, lack of energy, lack of vitality, lassitude, exhaustion, weariness, tiredness, overtiredness, fatigue, prostration
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Old French debilite, from Latin debilitas, from debilis ‘weak’.