frail vs weak what difference

what is difference between frail and weak



From Middle English frele, fraill, from Old French fraile, from Latin fragilis. Cognate to fraction, fracture, and doublet of fragile.


  • IPA(key): /fɹeɪl/
  • Rhymes: -eɪl


frail (comparative frailer, superlative frailest)

  1. Easily broken physically; not firm or durable; liable to fail and perish
    • 1831, John James Audubon, Ornithological Biography: Volume 1, Blue-grey Fly-catcher
      Its nest is composed of the frailest materials, and is light and small in proportion to the size of the bird
  2. Weak; infirm.
    • 1922, Isaac Rosenberg, Dawn
      O as the soft and frail lights break upon your eyelids
  3. Mentally fragile.
  4. Liable to fall from virtue or be led into sin; not strong against temptation; weak in resolution; unchaste.

Derived terms

  • frailly
  • frailness

Related terms



frail (plural frails)

  1. A basket made of rushes, used chiefly to hold figs and raisins.
  2. The quantity of fruit or other items contained in a frail.
  3. A rush for weaving baskets.
  4. (dated, slang) A girl.
    • 1931, Cab Calloway / Irving Mills, ‘Minnie the Moocher’:
      She was the roughest, toughest frail, but Minnie had a heart as big as a whale.
    • 1939, Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, Penguin 2011, p. 148:
      ‘She’s pickin’ ’em tonight, right on the nose,’ he said. ‘That tall black-headed frail.’
    • 1941, Preston Sturges, Sullivan’s Travels, published in Five Screenplays, →ISBN, page 77:
      Sullivan, the girl and the butler get to the ground. The girl wears a turtle-neck sweater, a cap slightly sideways, a torn coat, turned-up pants and sneakers.
      SULLIVAN Why don’t you go back with the car… You look about as much like a boy as Mae West.
      THE GIRL All right, they’ll think I’m your frail.


frail (third-person singular simple present frails, present participle frailing, simple past and past participle frailed)

  1. To play a stringed instrument, usually a banjo, by picking with the back of a fingernail.


  • frail in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.


  • filar, flair



From Middle English weyk, wayk, weik, waik, from Old Norse veikr (weak), from Proto-Germanic *waikwaz (weak, yielded, pliant, bendsome), from Proto-Indo-European *weyk- (to bend, wind). Cognate with Old English wāc (weak, bendsome), Saterland Frisian wook (soft, gentle, tender), West Frisian weak (soft), Dutch week (soft, weak), German weich (weak, soft), Norwegian veik (weak), Swedish vek (weak, pliant), Icelandic veikur (bendsome, weak). Related to Old English wīcan (to yield). Doublet of week and wick. (Can this(+) etymology be sourced?)

This etymology is incomplete. You can help Wiktionary by elaborating on the origins of this term.


  • enPR: wēk, IPA(key): /wiːk/
  • Rhymes: -iːk
  • Homophone: week


weak (comparative weaker, superlative weakest)

  1. Lacking in force (usually strength) or ability.
    • weak with hunger, mad with love
  2. Unable to sustain a great weight, pressure, or strain.
  3. Unable to withstand temptation, urgency, persuasion, etc.; easily impressed, moved, or overcome; accessible; vulnerable.
    • 1703, Nicholas Rowe, The Fair Penitent Act I, scene I:
      Guard thy heart / On this weak side, where most our nature fails.
  4. Dilute, lacking in taste or potency.
  5. (grammar) Displaying a particular kind of inflection, including:
    1. (Germanic languages, of verbs) Regular in inflection, lacking vowel changes and having a past tense with -d- or -t-.
    2. (Germanic languages, of nouns) Showing less distinct grammatical endings.
    3. (Germanic languages, of adjectives) Definite in meaning, often used with a definite article or similar word.
  6. (chemistry) That does not ionize completely into anions and cations in a solution.
  7. (physics) One of the four fundamental forces associated with nuclear decay.
  8. (slang) Bad or uncool.
  9. (mathematics, logic) Having a narrow range of logical consequences; narrowly applicable. (Often contrasted with a strong statement which implies it.)
  10. Resulting from, or indicating, lack of judgment, discernment, or firmness; unwise; hence, foolish.
  11. Not having power to convince; not supported by force of reason or truth; unsustained.
  12. Lacking in vigour or expression.
  13. Not prevalent or effective, or not felt to be prevalent; not potent; feeble.
  14. (stock exchange) Tending towards lower prices.
  15. (photography) Lacking contrast.


  • (lacking in force or ability): feeble, frail, powerless, vincible, assailable, vulnerable
  • (lacking in taste or potency): dilute, watery
  • See also Thesaurus:weak


  • (lacking in force or ability): healthy, powerful, robust, strong, invincible
  • (lacking in taste or potency): potent, robust, strong
  • (chemistry: that does not ionize completely): strong

Derived terms



  • Wake, wake, weka

West Frisian


(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


  • IPA(key): /vɪə̯k/



  1. (Clay) soft


Alternative forms

  • wêk (Wood)

Further reading

  • “weak (I)”, in Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal (in Dutch), 2011

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