de·​fault | \ di-ˈfȯlt How to pronounce default (audio) , dē-; ˈdē-ˌfȯlt \

Definition of default

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : failure to do something required by duty or law : neglect
2 archaic : fault
3 economics : a failure to pay financial debts was in default on her loan mortgage defaults
4a law : failure to appear at the required time in a legal proceeding The defendant is in default.
b : failure to compete in or to finish an appointed contest lost the game by default
5a : a selection made usually automatically or without active consideration due to lack of a viable alternative remained the club's president by default the default candidate
b computers : a selection automatically used by a program in the absence of a choice made by the user using the default settings
in default of
: in the absence of


defaulted; defaulting; defaults

Definition of default (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to fail to fulfill a contract, agreement, or duty: such as
a : to fail to meet a financial obligation default on a loan
b law : to fail to appear in court
c : to fail to compete in or to finish an appointed contest also : to forfeit a contest by such failure
2 computers : to make a selection automatically in the absence of a choice made by the user The program defaults to a standard font.

transitive verb

1 : to fail to perform, pay, or make good default a loan
2a : forfeit defaulted the game
b : to exclude (a player or a team) from a contest by default was defaulted from the tournament

Other Words from default


defaulter noun

Examples of default in a Sentence

Noun The defendant has made no appearance in the case and is in default. You can enter your own settings or use the defaults. Which font is the default in that computer program? Verb If the borrower defaults, the bank can take the house. The program defaults to a standard font.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Lockdown Mode is disabled by default but can be enabled on an iPhone by going to Settings, then Privacy and Security, then Lockdown Mode. Wired, 9 Aug. 2022 The Monarchs almost have to be ranked in the top five every year by default. Luca Evans, Los Angeles Times, 9 Aug. 2022 Disparate applications do not interact with each other by default and require API integrations. Evgeniy Altynpara, Forbes, 9 Aug. 2022 And unlike most tablets on this list, the Tab S8 comes with 128GB of storage by default. Harry Rabinowitz, Popular Mechanics, 8 Aug. 2022 By default, the Supreme Court has become the decider of many important U.S. issues. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 Aug. 2022 Jones also faces judgments in two other cases in which he was sued by parents of Sandy Hook victims after losing the lawsuits by default last year for failing to comply with court orders for documents and testimony. Todd Spangler, Variety, 4 Aug. 2022 Jones lost several defamation cases by default last year. Emily Mae Czachor, CBS News, 4 Aug. 2022 Texas Judge Maya Guerra Gamble has already ruled in favor of Sandy Hook parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis by default, saying that Jones did not comply with the rules of discovery in the case. Jordan Nathaniel Fenster And John Moritz, San Antonio Express-News, 3 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To trim complexity and manage ever-expanding compliance issues, HR departments default to seeing roles, requirements and numbers. Rich Karlgaard, Forbes, 12 July 2022 Many businesses will default to copy that sounds the same as many of the other businesses in the industry. Expert Panel, Forbes, 27 Oct. 2021 Because the consequences of not doing it are far too dire for the country: The Treasury Department would default on its debts, badly damaging the country's economic credibility around the world. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 16 Sep. 2021 Schumer and other Democrats also have described the process as risky, potentially taking so much time that the country could default before Democrats even finished legislating. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 5 Oct. 2021 Recent bitcoin losses have added to fears that El Salvador will default on its debt after President Nayib Bukele invested hundreds of millions into the cryptocurrency. Isabella Rolz, Washington Post, 6 July 2022 In an affidavit to the New York Supreme Court, Williams stated that Wells Fargo improperly denied her access to her money, leading her to default and risk defaulting on several bills. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 May 2022 Fears that the real estate developer could default and spark a contagion effect roiled global markets in September. Selina Wang, CNN, 9 Nov. 2021 Fear is also mounting that Evergrande Group, a massive Chinese property developer, could default on its hundreds of billions in debt and trigger a financial crisis beyond China. CBS News, 20 Sep. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'default.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of default


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for default

Noun and Verb

Middle English defaute, defaulte, from Anglo-French, from defaillir to be lacking, fail, from de- + faillir to fail

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Time Traveler for default

Time Traveler

The first known use of default was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

14 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Default.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for default


de·​fault | \ di-ˈfȯlt How to pronounce default (audio) \

Kids Definition of default

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: failure to do something especially that is required by law or duty If we miss the game, we'll lose by default.


defaulted; defaulting

Kids Definition of default (Entry 2 of 2)

: to fail to do something required He defaulted on repaying the money.


de·​fault | \ di-ˈfȯlt, ˈdē-ˌfȯlt How to pronounce default (audio) \

Legal Definition of default

1 : failure to do something required by duty (as under a contract or by law): as
a : failure to comply with the terms of a loan agreement or security agreement especially with regard to payment of the debt
b in the civil law of Louisiana : a delay in performing under a contract that is recognized by the other party

Note: A party whose performance under a contract is delayed is not automatically in default. Rather, the law of Louisiana requires that the other party “put him or her in default” by a written or witnessed oral request for performance, by filing suit, or by invoking a specific provision in the contract. Moratory damages may be recoverable for loss caused by the delay.

2 : failure to defend against a claim in court (as by failing to file pleadings or to appear in court) — see also default judgment at judgment sense 1a
in default
: in the condition of having defaulted

Other Words from default

default verb
defaulter noun

History and Etymology for default

Anglo-French defalte defaute lack, fault, failure to answer a summons, from defaillir to be lacking, fail, from de-, intensive prefix + faillir to fail

More from Merriam-Webster on default

Nglish: Translation of default for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of default for Arabic Speakers


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