default

1 of 2

noun

de·​fault di-ˈfȯlt How to pronounce default (audio)
dē-;
ˈdē-ˌfȯlt
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
4
a
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
5
a
: 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

default

2 of 2

verb

defaulted; defaulting; defaults

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
2
a
: forfeit
defaulted the game
b
: to exclude (a player or a team) from a contest by default
was defaulted from the tournament
defaulter noun
Phrases
in default of
: in the absence of

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
Johnson alleged that Joiner falsified the paperwork and sent a default notice that led to Johnson’s family being evicted from their multimillion-dollar home. Jordan Moreau, Variety, 21 June 2024 In 2021 and 2022, Jones faced a string of legal defeats in the Sandy Hook family defamation suits through default judgments and jury verdicts. Will Sommer, Washington Post, 14 June 2024
Verb
Ultimately Shangri-La defaulted on payments, sending the projects into receivership and, eventually, foreclosure. Doug Smith, Los Angeles Times, 7 June 2024 In at least one case, a customer defaulted on an Ampla loan worth several million dollars. Jordyn Holman, New York Times, 24 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for default 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'default.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near default

Cite this Entry

“Default.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/default. Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

default

1 of 2 noun
de·​fault di-ˈfȯlt How to pronounce default (audio)
1
: failure to take action
lost a great opportunity by default
a decision made by default, not by deciding
2
: failure to do something required (as make a payment or appear in court)
in default on a loan
lost a court case by default
3
: a selection to be made automatically according to a computer program when the user does not specify a choice

default

2 of 2 verb
: to fail to carry out a contract, obligation, or duty
defaulter noun

Legal Definition

default

noun
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
default verb
defaulter noun
Etymology

Noun

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

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