a. Susceptible to physical harm or damage: trees that are vulnerable to insects.
b. Susceptible to emotional injury, especially in being easily hurt: a lonely child who is vulnerable to teasing.
c. Susceptible to attack: “We are vulnerable both by water and land, without either fleet or army” (Alexander Hamilton).
d. Open to censure or criticism; assailable: The mayor is vulnerable to criticism on the issue.
e. Susceptible to loss or poor performance: a team that is vulnerable going into the tournament.
2. 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.
[Late Latin vulnerābilis, wounding, from Latin vulnerāre, to wound, from vulnus, vulner-, wound; see welə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
vul′ner·a·bili·ty, vulner·a·ble·ness n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.