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adjective \ˈfer\

Simple Definition of fair

  • : agreeing with what is thought to be right or acceptable

  • : treating people in a way that does not favor some over others

  • : not too harsh or critical

Full Definition of fair

  1. 1 :  pleasing to the eye or mind especially because of fresh, charming, or flawless quality

  2. 2 :  superficially pleasing :  specious <she trusted his fair promises>

  3. 3 a :  clean, pure <fair sparkling water> b :  clear, legible

  4. 4 :  not stormy or foul :  fine <fair weather>

  5. 5 :  ample <a fair estate>

  6. 6 a :  marked by impartiality and honesty :  free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism <a very fair person to do business with> b (1) :  conforming with the established rules :  allowed (2) :  consonant with merit or importance :  due <a fair share> c :  open to legitimate pursuit, attack, or ridicule <fair game>

  7. 7 a :  promising, likely <in a fair way to win> b :  favorable to a ship's course <a fair wind>

  8. 8 archaic :  free of obstacles

  9. 9 :  not dark <fair skin>

  10. 10 a :  sufficient but not ample :  adequate <a fair understanding of the work> b :  moderately numerous, large, or significant <takes a fair amount of time>

  11. 11 :  being such to the utmost :  utter <a fair treat to watch him — New Republic>

fair·ness noun

Examples of fair

  1. “You boys not looking for any trouble, are you?” The question was fair. Millat's Crew looked like trouble. —Zadie Smith, White Teeth, (2000) 2001

  2. “I have a good relationship with both Eddie and David. I think they've been fair to me.” —Joni Mitchell, quoted in Rolling Stone, 30 May 1991

  3. Everybody out, the Iraqis said, except CNN. Even CNN isn't sure why they made that decision. Perhaps it is because CNN alone is seen globally. What the Iraqis told us is that they had found our coverage since August to have been “fair.” —Peter Arnett, Washington Post, 25-31 Mar. 1991

  4. That's a fair question, and it deserves an honest reply.

  5. He is known as a very fair man.

  6. I try to be fair to my children.

  7. He claims that the competition wasn't fair.

  8. It's not fair that she gets to leave early and I don't.

  9. a fair and impartial jury

  10. a bargain that is fair to everyone

  11. What a bad movie! Be fair! Parts of it are actually pretty funny.

  12. I can't say I liked the movie, but, to be fair, parts of it are pretty funny.

  13. She did poorly on the test, but, to be fair, so did a lot of other people.

Origin of fair

Middle English fager, fair, from Old English fæger; akin to Old High German fagar beautiful

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of fair

fair, just, equitable, impartial, unbiased, dispassionate, objective mean free from favor toward either or any side. fair implies a proper balance of conflicting interests <a fair decision>. just implies an exact following of a standard of what is right and proper <a just settlement of territorial claims>. equitable implies a less rigorous standard than just and usually suggests equal treatment of all concerned <the equitable distribution of the property>. impartial stresses an absence of favor or prejudice <an impartial third party>. unbiased implies even more strongly an absence of all prejudice <your unbiased opinion>. dispassionate suggests freedom from the influence of strong feeling and often implies cool or even cold judgment <a dispassionate summation of the facts>. objective stresses a tendency to view events or persons as apart from oneself and one's own interest or feelings <I can't be objective about my own child>.

synonyms see in addition beautiful



noun \ˈfer\

Definition of fair

  1. 1 obsolete :  beauty, fairness

  2. 2 :  something that is fair or fortunate (see 1fair)

  3. 3 archaic :  woman; especially :  sweetheart

for fair
  1. :  to the greatest extent or degree :  fully <the rush is on for fair>

no fair
  1. :  something that is not according to the rules <that's no fair>

Origin of fair

(see 1fair)

First Known Use: before 12th century



adverb \ˈfer\

Definition of fair

  1. 1 :  in a manner that is honest or impartial or that conforms to rules :  in a fair manner <play fair>

  2. 2 chiefly British :  fairly 3 <fair makes you want to cry>

Examples of fair

  1. <we expect everyone on this basketball court to play fair>

  2. <it fair takes your breath away when you find out what properties in London are going for>

Origin of fair

(see 1fair)

First Known Use: before 12th century



verb \ˈfer\

Definition of fair

of the weather

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  clear

  3. transitive verb
  4. :  to join so that the external surfaces blend smoothly

Origin of fair

(see 1fair)

First Known Use: 1819



noun \ˈfer\

Definition of fair

  1. 1 :  a gathering of buyers and sellers at a particular place and time for trade

  2. 2 a :  a competitive exhibition usually with accompanying entertainment and amusements <an agricultural fair> b :  an exhibition designed to acquaint prospective buyers or the general public with a product <a book fair> c :  an exposition that promotes the availability of services or opportunities <health fairs> <job fairs>

  3. 3 :  a sale of assorted articles usually for a charitable purpose

Examples of fair

  1. At night the sparkling lights, hurdy-gurdy music of the merry-go-round, excited children, and screams of the riders on the roller coaster that races overhead recall the gaiety of a carnival midway at a county fair. —Witold Rybczynski, Atlantic, May 1993

  2. Back at the street fair, in the smoky heat among vendors of souvenirs and street food, a flock of kids dances around a boom box playing Lionel Richie. —Barbara Kingsolver, New York Times Magazine, 12 Sept. 1993

  3. “Do you like to go out? You know, party?” “Who doesn't?” “Well, the Ebony Fashion Fair is in three weeks. You want to go?” —Terry McMillan, Waiting to Exhale, 1992

Origin of fair

Middle English feire, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin feria weekday, fair, from Late Latin, festal day, from Latin feriae (plural) holidays — more at feast

First Known Use: 13th century

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up fair? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 8, 2016

to clear from accusation or blame

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