Definition of frail in US English:



  • 1(of a person) weak and delicate.

    ‘she looked frail and vulnerable’
    ‘a frail voice’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It can cause infections, especially among elderly or frail people.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As a child in Germany he was frail and sickly, and because of this he became obsessed with his body image.’
    • ‘For frail people in the community, frequent reviews and adjustments of their care plans are likely to be needed.’
    • ‘They will be frail people with lung disease, and most will never know that it was influenza which pushed them off the edge.’
    • ‘She added that had it been an elderly or frail person who was attacked, the whole situation could have been far worse.’
    • ‘The frail woman thanked the people who came to meet her and honour her father as well.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many private homes have closed, being unable to meet the standards, disrupting the lives of many elderly and very frail people.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Microsurgery and improved chemotherapy have made treatment less risky, and therefore an option for frail patients.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We are bombarded with images of elderly people being frail and sickly.’
    • ‘During the day the bus takes vulnerable and frail people on shopping trips and outings.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘That would mean each vulnerable member of society, from frail pensioner to neglected child, being given the time and care they needed.’
    • ‘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.’
    infirm, weak, weakened, feeble, enfeebled, debilitated, incapacitated, crippled, wasted
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    1. 1.1 Easily damaged or broken; fragile or insubstantial.
      ‘the balcony is frail’
      ‘the frail Russian 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.’
      • ‘All of humanity there, frail and complicated and beautiful.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Reviewers and critics frequently refuse to be honest about Australian movies because they believe this will damage the frail home industry.’
      • ‘Markets will continue to wait for war and, in the process, further slow down an already frail economy.’
      • ‘Yet at the same time, it is so frail that one small piece of magnet, held nearby, can distort it totally.’
      • ‘The country's administrative capabilities and public health services have remained frail and ineffective.’
      • ‘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.’
      fragile, breakable, easily broken, easily damaged, delicate, flimsy, insubstantial
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    2. 1.2archaic Weak in character or morals.
      • ‘That's what public relations propaganda is all about - conning frail, vain humans.’
      • ‘If you use it then you will likely to be perceived as brave or the opposite of coward or frail.’
      • ‘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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Middle English: from Old French fraile, from Latin fragilis (see fragile).