Simple Definition of fail
: to not succeed : to end without success
: to not succeed as a business : to become bankrupt
: to not do (something that you should do or are expected to do)
Full Definition of fail
1 a : to lose strength : weaken <her health was failing> b : to fade or die away <until our family line fails> c : to stop functioning normally <the patient's heart failed>
2 a : to fall short <failed in his duty> b : to be or become absent or inadequate <the water supply failed> c : to be unsuccessful <the marriage failed>; specifically : to be unsuccessful in achieving a passing grade <took the exam and failed> d : to become bankrupt or insolvent
1 a : to disappoint the expectations or trust of <her friends failed her> b : to miss performing an expected service or function for <his wit failed him>
2 : to be deficient in : lack <never failed an invincible courage — Douglas MacArthur>
3 : to leave undone : neglect <fail to lock the door>
4 a : to be unsuccessful in passing <failed chemistry> b : to grade (as a student) as not passing
Examples of fail in a sentence
He failed in his first attempt but succeeded in his second attempt.
His first company failed, but his second company succeeded.
He felt that he had failed her when she needed him most.
The government has failed the voters.
Origin of fail
Middle English failen, from Anglo-French faillir, from Vulgar Latin *fallire, alteration of Latin fallere to deceive, disappoint
First Known Use: 13th century
Rhymes with fail
First Known Use of fail
FAIL Defined for Kids
Definition of fail for Students
1 : to be unsuccessful <He failed the test.>
2 : to grade as not passing <My teacher failed me.>
3 : to stop functioning <The engine failed.>
4 : to be or become absent or not enough <The water supply failed.>
5 : to become bankrupt <The business failed.>
6 : 1neglect 2 <Don't fail to ask if you need my help.>
8 : to lose strength : weaken <She's failing in health.>
Medical Definition of fail
1: to weaken or lose strength <her health was failing>
2: to stop functioning normally <the patient's heart failed>
Legal Definition of fail
1 : to be or become inadequate or unsuccessful especially in fulfilling certain formal requirements <even if one or more terms are left open, a contract for sale does not fail for indefiniteness — Uniform Commercial Code>
2 : to become bankrupt or insolvent
: to leave undone or neglect to do <fail to appear in court> <fail to read a contract>
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up fail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).