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1640–50, from Early Modern Middle French foible (feeble) (contemporary French faible). Doublet of feeble.


  • IPA(key): /ˈfɔɪbəl/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔɪbəl


foible (plural foibles)

  1. (chiefly in the plural) A quirk, idiosyncrasy, or mannerism; an unusual habit that is slightly strange or silly.
    Try to look past his foibles and see the friendly fellow underneath.
    • 1871–1872, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter XV, in Middlemarch [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to IV), Edinburgh, London: William Blackwood and Sons, →OCLC, book II:
      He knew that this was like the sudden impulse of a madman—incongruous even with his habitual foibles.
    • 1905 January 12, Baroness Orczy [i.e., Emma Orczy], The Scarlet Pimpernel, popular edition, London: Greening & Co., published 20 March 1912, →OCLC:
      Marguerite Blakeney was, above all, a woman, with all a woman’s fascinating foibles, all a woman’s most lovable sins.
    • 1915, W[illiam] Somerset Maugham, chapter XLV, in Of Human Bondage, New York, N.Y.: George H[enry] Doran Company, →OCLC:
      They made up for the respect with which unconsciously they treated him by laughing at his foibles and lamenting his vices.
    • 1959 July 24, “An Ounce of Prevention”, in Meriden Record, page 6:
      Final fillip in the Vice-President's study has been a boning up on Premier Khrushchev's favorite foible, proverbs. The bibulous Russian leader likes to throw out homely homilies in his speeches and conversations []
  2. A weakness or failing of character.
    Synonym: fault
    • 1932, William Floyd, The Mistakes of Jesus:
      Jesus is reverenced as the one man who has lived unspotted by the world, free from human foibles, able to redeem mankind by his example.
  3. (fencing) Part of a sword between the middle and the point, weaker than the forte.

Related terms[edit]



foible (comparative more foible, superlative most foible)

  1. (obsolete) Weak; feeble.
    • a. 1648, Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury, The Life of Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury, page 46:
      The good Fencing-maſters, in France eſpecially, when they preſent a Foyle or Fleuret to their Scholars, tell him it hath two Parts, one of which he calleth the Fort or ſtrong, and the other the Foyble or weak []

Middle French[edit]


From Old French foible, feble.


foible m or f (plural foibles)

  1. feeble; weak

Derived terms[edit]


  • English: foible
  • French: faible

Old French[edit]


foible m (oblique and nominative feminine singular foible)

  1. Alternative form of feble

Derived terms[edit]