Meaning of WEAK in English

weak S3 W2 /wiːk/ BrE AmE adjective

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ weakling , ↑ weakness ; verb : ↑ weaken ; adverb : ↑ weakly ; adjective : ↑ weak ]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old Norse ; Origin: veikr ]

1 . PHYSICAL not physically strong:

The illness left her feeling weak.

Poor light produces weak plants.

be too weak to do something

She’s too weak to feed herself.

weak with/from

Nina was weak with hunger.

The animal was weak from loss of blood.

weak heart/lungs etc

My grandfather had a weak heart.

2 . LIKELY TO BREAK unable to support much weight:

a weak bridge

too weak to do something

The branch was too weak to support his weight.

3 . CHARACTER easily influenced by other people – used to show disapproval:

a weak indecisive man

4 . WITHOUT POWER not having much power or influence

weak leader/ruler/king etc

a weak and ineffective president

The party was left weak and divided.

The country is in a weak position economically.

5 . WITHOUT INTEREST without the power to interest or amuse people:

The play is well acted but the plot is weak.

a weak joke

6 . WITHOUT ENERGY done without energy or confidence:

He managed a weak smile.

7 . NOT GOOD AT DOING SOMETHING not good at a particular skill or subject, or in a particular area of activity or knowledge

weak in

New Zealand was weak in defense.

weak on

She speaks quite fluently but she’s weak on grammar.

Be honest about your weak points (=your faults or the things you do not do well) .

8 . MONEY not financially successful

weak currency/economy etc

The pound was weak against the dollar.

9 . ARGUMENT/IDEA not likely to make people believe that something is true or right:

She’s washing her hair? That sounds like a weak excuse!

There are some weak points in her argument.

The defence lawyer clearly knew that his case was weak.

10 . DRINK weak tea, beer etc contains a lot of water and has little taste OPP strong

11 . LIGHT/SOUND difficult to see or hear SYN faint :

a weak radio signal

He had only a weak light to see by.

12 . weak points/spots the parts of something that can easily be attacked or criticized:

Check your house for weak spots where a thief could enter.

13 . weak at the knees feeling strange because of strong emotions:

His smile made her go weak at the knees.

14 . weak moment a time when you can be persuaded more easily than usual:

Dave caught me at a weak moment and I lent him £10.

15 . the weak/weakest link the person or thing in a situation that is less strong, skilful etc than the others:

Goalkeeper Gouter proved to be the weakest link.

16 . weak verb technical a verb that forms regular past tenses OPP strong verb

17 . weak consonant/syllable one that is not emphasized

—weakly adverb :

‘I’m sorry,’ she said, smiling weakly.

He sank down weakly beside her.

• • •


■ not physically strong

▪ weak not physically strong, sometimes because you are ill:

Tom’s had flu and he’s still feeling weak.


The doctors said she was too weak to have an operation.


He suffered constantly from a weak chest.

▪ frail weak and thin, especially because you are old:

a frail 85-year-old lady


My grandfather’s becoming quite frail now.

▪ shaky feeling weak in your legs and only able to walk slowly and unsteadily:

When I came out of hospital I was a bit shaky for a while.

▪ puny /ˈpjuːni/ especially disapproving small, thin, and looking very weak:

his puny white arms


He was a puny little boy who was often bullied at school.

▪ feeble especially written weak and unable to do much because you are very ill, very old or young:

For a week she was too feeble to get out of bed.


a tiny, feeble baby

▪ delicate weak and often becoming ill easily:

a delicate child


She had rather a delicate constitution (=her body easily became ill) .

▪ infirm formal weak or ill for a long time, especially because you are old:

a residential home for people who are elderly and infirm


There are special facilities for wheelchair users and infirm guests.

▪ malnourished formal weak or ill because you have not had enough good food to eat:

Half a million people there are severely malnourished.


The organization provides emergency feeding for malnourished children.

■ likely to break

▪ weak unable to support much weight, and likely to break:

The foundations of the building are rather weak.


an old chair with weak legs

▪ fragile made of a thin material that is easy to break or damage – used when something needs to be handled carefully:

a fragile china vase


Be careful of those glasses – they’re very fragile.

▪ delicate easy to break or damage – used especially about soft materials, skin etc:

Wash delicate fabrics separately.


This soap is good for delicate skin.

▪ flimsy not well-made from strong materials and so easily damaged – used about furniture, houses etc:

a flimsy plastic table


This keyboard’s very cheap but it’s a bit flimsy.

▪ rickety /ˈrɪkəti, ˈrɪkɪti/ in very bad condition and likely to break – used about a building, piece of furniture, vehicle etc:

a rickety old bicycle


He lived in a rickety hut on the beach for several years.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.