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
There was almost a shockwave rather than a fanfare when the Pole became the No.1 by default after Ash Barty’s sudden retirement. Tim Ellis, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 But the country is facing a myriad of challenges, including a record property downturn, surging youth unemployment, deflationary pressure, rising corporate defaults and mounting financial stress at local governments. Laura He, CNN, 20 Feb. 2024 By default, Platt was the gravitational core of the Rangers, lyrically and musically. Garret K. Woodward, Rolling Stone, 20 Feb. 2024 First, by default, your phone number will no longer be visible in your Signal profile unless someone already has the number saved in their phone's address book. Andy Greenberg, WIRED, 20 Feb. 2024 But there’s at least a slight possibility that the no-rail potential could grow by default. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Feb. 2024 At the same time, following Evergrande’s debt default, other major Chinese property developers have been defaulting on their debt and have stopped working on unfinished housing projects. Desmond Lachman, National Review, 13 Feb. 2024 Because there are no Democratic challengers, the winner of the Republican primary on March 5 will be by default the judge-elect. James Hartley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 13 Feb. 2024 Tech companies are starting to make passkeys the default, and more businesses are adopting them. Matt Burgess, WIRED, 8 Feb. 2024
Verb
All fraudulent Should spending increases trigger automatic increases to the U.S. debt limit so that political gridlock does not cause the country to default on its debts? Charlotte Observer, 22 Feb. 2024 Dozens of major developers have defaulted on their debt, with Evergrande, once the country’s second largest homebuilder, ordered to liquidate last month. Juliana Liu, CNN, 21 Feb. 2024 But the Biden administration allowed Title 42 to expire last May, and border policy defaulted to the previous standard, which allows most asylum seekers to stay in America while their cases play out in the backlogged court system. Eli Saslow Erin Schaff, New York Times, 18 Feb. 2024 The program would also apply to borrowers at high risk of defaulting on their loans in two years. Sara Dorn, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 Earlier this month, a luxury development in the heart of Mayfair, an upscale area in west London, collapsed into administration after defaulting on its loans. Neil Callanan, Fortune, 9 Feb. 2024 For years, most global automakers defaulted to the Combined Charging Standard, a connector-and-port design created by a committee of professionals. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, 31 Jan. 2024 Unlike some vehicles that default back to front-wheel drive every time the engine starts, a button can set the 2025 Equinox to start in AWD. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, 23 Jan. 2024 Should spending increases trigger automatic increases to the U.S. debt limit so that political gridlock does not cause the country to default on its debts? Charlotte Observer, 8 Feb. 2024 See More

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 1 Mar. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on default

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