Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Susceptible to physical or emotional injury.
  • adj. Susceptible to attack: "We are vulnerable both by water and land, without either fleet or army” ( Alexander Hamilton).
  • adj. Open to censure or criticism; assailable.
  • adj. Liable to succumb, as to persuasion or temptation.
  • adj. Games In a position to receive greater penalties or bonuses in a hand of bridge. In a rubber, used of the pair of players who score 100 points toward game.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. More or most likely to be exposed to the chance of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
  • adj. More likely to be exposed to malicious programs or viruses.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Capable of being wounded; susceptible of wounds or external injuries.
  • adj. Liable to injury; subject to be affected injuriously; assailable.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Capable of wounding; dangerous.
  • Capable of being wounded; susceptible of wounds or injuries, literally or figuratively.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. capable of being wounded or hurt
  • adj. susceptible to attack
  • adj. susceptible to criticism or persuasion or temptation

Etymologies

Late Latin vulnerābilis, wounding, from Latin vulnerāre, to wound, from vulnus, vulner-, wound.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin vulnerābilis ("injurious, wounding"), from Latin vulnerō ("I wound"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Lyon has been called many things, but never was the word vulnerable put to his name.

    Castles and The Lion’s Lady

  • The word vulnerable itself comes from the Latin vulnerare which means 'to wound', and so at the root of vulnerability is my own sense of wounded-ness.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • The language is lucid yet gripping and reflects popular human sentiment and passions, †observes D†™ Souza. “The term vulnerable has been specifically and repeatedly coined to reiterate the myriad vulnerabilities faced by the nation from political establishments.

    The Times of India

  • I probably wasn't very clear, but I was using the term vulnerable to describe people who are undergoing therapy (anybody with mental health problems) - not the users of drugs per se.

    Army Rumour Service

  • Protection and care for the vulnerable is at the very roots under civilization, and the attacks on this take many forms.

    The Formal Home

  • Protecting the vulnerable is an essential function of government and affordable compassion is an indelible element of contemporary liberalism.

    The New Face of Government

  • Then someone else said, The word 'vulnerable' has been going around.

    Thestar.com - Home Page

  • Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, introduced a slew of unsuccessful amendments, arguing that the underlying bill doesn't do enough to protect the rights of surrogate mothers and doesn't assign adequate value to the work of what he termed "vulnerable women."

    The Seattle Times

  • The military reverberations of the word "vulnerable"-unguarded, unfortified, defenseless-as well as its more visceral associations-exposed, naked-I felt intensely as I thought about the hard attitude rampant today that everyone is on his or her own, not only poor families struggling to survive (cuts to welfare), but also children (cuts to education) and the elderly (cuts to Medicare and Social Security); and the ruthless attitude equally rampant today that no one owes anybody anything, that any "sacrifice" in the name of the public good, of the world we share together, our commonwealth, is too much to ask of anyone.

    NPR Topics: News

  • The academics who question the mass benefits of expanding coverage still think that doing so improves outcomes among certain vulnerable subgroups, like infants and patients with HIV.

    Myth Diagnosis

Comments

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  • This word is vunnerable to loss of its first l, even by the manglemouths who pass for reporters these days.

    April 3, 2012

  • "I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs."
    - Barack Obama, The Full Obama Interview, time.com, 23 Oct 2008.

    February 13, 2009