Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

fair

play
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

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

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>

fairness

noun

Examples of fair in a sentence

  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.



Fair in Love and War

For many people, the word fair brings to mind the aphorism “all is fair in love and war.” We have been using some variation of this saying for quite some time, although, as with many such expressions, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when it began. As far back as 1578 John Lyly wrote “anye impietie may lawfully be committed in loue, which is lawlesse.” We do not see evidence of war juxtaposed with love until 1687, when Aphra Behn wrote “All Advantages are lawful in Love and War” in her play The Emperor of the Moon. By 1717 this had morphed into “All advantages are fair in love and war” in William Taverner’s play The Artful Husband. Finally, by 1789 we find the line used exactly as it is today in the novel The Relapse: “Tho’ this was a confounded lie, my friend, ‘all is fair in love and war’.”

Origin and Etymology 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


2

fair

play
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 and Etymology of fair

(see 1fair)


First Known Use: before 12th century


3

fair

play
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 in a sentence

  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 and Etymology of fair

(see 1fair)


First Known Use: before 12th century


4

fair

play
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 and Etymology of fair

(see 1fair)


First Known Use: 1819


5

fair

play
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 in a sentence

  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 and Etymology 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



FAIR Defined for Kids

1

fair

play
adjective \ˈfer\

Definition of fair for Students

fairer

fairest

  1. 1 :  not favoring one over another <Everyone received fair treatment.>

  2. 2 :  observing the rules <fair play>

  3. 3 :  neither good nor bad <He's only a fair singer.>

  4. 4 :  not stormy or cloudy <fair weather>

  5. 5 :  not dark <fair hair>

  6. 6 :  attractive in appearance :  beautiful <our fair city>

  7. 7 :  being within the foul lines <a fair ball>

fairness

noun



2

fair

play
adverb

Definition of fair for Students

  1. :  according to the rules <play fair>




3

fair

play
noun

Definition of fair for Students

  1. 1 :  a large public event at which farm animals and products are shown and entertainment, amusements, and food are provided <a county fair>

  2. 2 :  an event at which people gather to buy, sell, or get information <a job fair> <a book fair>

  3. 3 :  a sale of articles for charity <a church fair>




Law Dictionary

fair

adjective

Legal Definition of fair

  1. 1 :  characterized by honesty and justice :  free from self-interest, deception, injustice, or favoritism <a fair and impartial tribunal>

  2. 2 :  reasonable as a basis for exchange <a fair wage> <a fair valuation>

  3. 3 :  consistent with merit or importance <fair and just compensation for the injuries>

  4. 4 :  conforming with established laws or standards :  being in accordance with a person's rights under the law <fair judicial process>

fairly

adverb

fairness

noun




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).

WORD OF THE DAY

to depart quickly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

alphabet-pasta-spelling-help

Which is the correct spelling?

acommadate acommodate accomodate accommodate
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ