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.
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 ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus