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weakness [noun]

the fact or state of not being strong or powerful

US /ˈwiːk.nəs/ 
UK /ˈwiːk.nəs/ 

economic weakness

Oxford Essential Dictionary



1 (no plural) the state of not being strong:
He thought that crying was a sign of weakness.

2 (plural weaknesses) something that is wrong or bad in a person or thing
 opposite strength

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English


weakness W3 /ˈwiːknəs, ˈwiːknɪs/ BrE AmE noun
[Word Family: noun: ↑weakling, ↑weakness; verb: ↑weaken; adverb: ↑weakly; adjective: ↑weak]
1. FAULT [countable] a fault in someone’s character or in a system, organization, design etc:
The legislation has a fundamental weakness.
The plan has strengths and weaknesses.
2. LACK OF POWER [uncountable] lack of strength, power, or influence
weakness in
weakness in the economy
weakness of
the growing weakness of local government
3. BODY [uncountable] the state of being physically weak:
muscular weakness
weakness in
weakness in the right arm
4. CHARACTER [uncountable] lack of determination shown in someone’s behaviour:
He couldn’t explain his weakness in giving in to her demands.
I dared not cry or show any sign of weakness.
weakness of
his weakness of character
5. MONEY [uncountable] the condition of not being worth a lot of money
weakness of
the weakness of the pound against the dollar
6. a weakness for something if you have a weakness for something, you like it very much even though it may not be good for you:
I have a real weakness for fashionable clothes.

■ something wrong
fault a problem in a machine, system, design etc that causes damage or makes it not work properly: The fire was caused by an electrical fault. | a fault in the engine
defect a fault in something such as a product or machine, resulting from the way it was made or designed: Cars are tested for defects before they leave the factory.
weakness a part of a plan, system, or argument that is not as good as the other parts, and makes it likely to fail: What are the strengths and weaknesses of each method?
flaw a fault in a plan, system, argument etc, especially one that makes it useless or not effective: Your argument has a fundamental flaw. | There was one major flaw in his suggestion – we didn’t have enough money.
bug a fault in a computer program: A bug in the system was quickly fixed.
glitch a small fault in the way something works, that can usually be easily corrected: I noticed a small glitch when installing the software.
mistake something that is wrong in someone’s spelling, grammar, calculations etc: The article was full of spelling mistakes.
there’s something wrong with something used when saying that there is a problem in a machine, car etc, but you do not know what it is: There’s something wrong with the computer – it won’t close down.

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


weak·ness [weakness weaknesses]   [ˈwiːknəs]    [ˈwiːknəs]  noun
1. uncountable lack of strength, power or determination
The sudden weakness in her legs made her stumble.
the weakness of the dollar against the pound
He thought that crying was a sign of weakness.

Opp:  strength

2. countable a weak point in a system, sb's character, etc
It's important to know your own strengths and weaknesses.
• Can you spot the weakness in her argument?

Opp:  strength

3. countable, usually singular ~ (for sth/sb) difficulty in resisting sth/sb that you like very much
He has a weakness for chocolate.  
Example Bank:
He saw compromise as a sign of weakness.
He worries a lot about his weight, but can't overcome his weakness for fatty foods.
I have a real weakness for chocolate.
In a moment of weakness I let him drive my car.
Make companies aware of potential weaknesses so they know what steps to take.
Service conditions soon revealed the inherent weaknesses in the vehicle's design.
She didn't seem to have any obvious weaknesses.
The appraisal system seeks to assess employees' strengths and weaknesses.
The criminals exploit apparent weaknesses in the system.
The greatest weakness of the plan lies in its lack of government support.
The management had to address specific weaknesses in training.
The team doesn't have any glaring weaknesses.
They know their strengths and weaknesses.
a fatal weakness in his theory
a position of relative weakness
business leaders who refuse to admit their weaknesses
humanity's moral weakness and capacity for evil
the primary methodological weakness of this study
the underlying weakness of the coalition's position
Can you spot the weakness in that argument?
Certain structural weaknesses have to be overcome before the economy can recover.
He regarded asking for help as a sign of weakness.
She admits that her love of luxury is one of her greatest weaknesses.
The fundamental weakness of the organization is its lack of effective communication.
There are a number of weaknesses in this approach.
Try to consider the relative strengths and weaknesses of your work.
We all have our weaknesses.
We are all subject to some form of human weakness.
• You need to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses.

• Young recruits were urged to overcome their own innate weaknesses.

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 4th Edition

weakness     / wik.nəs /   noun   
    B2   [ U ]   the fact or state of not being strong or powerful:  
  Any change of policy will be interpreted as a sign of weakness. 
    B2   [ C ]   a particular part or quality of someone or something that is not good or effective:  
  There are definite weaknesses in their security arrangements. 
  His main weakness as a manager is his inability to delegate. 
  The later novels show none of the weaknesses of his earlier work. 
  weakness for 
    C2     a strong liking, usually for something that might have unpleasant or unwanted effects:  
  My diet would be fine if only I didn't have this weakness for sweet things. 

© Cambridge University Press 2013

Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary


 N-COUNT: usu sing, oft N for n
 If you have a weakness for something, you like it very much, although this is perhaps surprising or undesirable.
 → See also weak
  Stephen himself had a weakness for cats...
  His one weakness, apart from aeroplanes, is ice cream.

Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary

Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary: 


weak·ness /ˈwiːknəs/ noun, pl -ness·es
1 [noncount] : the quality or state of being weak
• muscle weakness
• The weakness of her voice surprised me.
• The incident exposed his weakness as a leader.
• Some see compromise as a sign of weakness.
• moral weakness
• the weakness of a radio signal/Internet connection
• the weakness of the dollar/economy
• I told them my secret in a moment of weakness.
2 [count] : a quality or feature that prevents someone or something from being effective or useful
• The tutor assessed the student's strengths and weaknesses.
• The basketball team has few weaknesses.
3 [count]
a : something that you like so much that you are often unable to resist it
• Chocolate is my greatest weakness.
b : a strong feeling of desire for something
• He has a weakness for desserts.


  1. Do you prefer writing or typing? What are the differences?
  2. Do you enjoy writing?
  3. What do you usually write during a normal day?
  4. Do you find writing in your native language easy or difficult? How about writing in English?
  5. What are your weaknesses in writing?
  6. Have you ever written a poem or a story?
  7. Do you like your handwriting?  Do you think people's handwriting can tell about their character?


  1. Do you have a reasonable level of self-esteem? Why/why not?
  2. To what extent are you aware of your weaknesses and strengths? How do you feel about your weaknesses?
  3. How can you improve your self-esteem?
  4. What are the factors that build your self-esteem?
  5. Can doing sports increase your self-esteem? How?
  6. If you have a low self-esteem, what do you guess are the contributing factors? Who do you blame it for, you parents, education system, etc?
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