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 The 48-megapixel photos are turned off by default, and the reason is simple. Chris Smith, BGR, 27 Sep. 2022 But otherwise, the features won't be turned on by default until the next yearly Windows update ships. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 20 Sep. 2022 The act of downloading the app is, by default, consenting to whatever notifications an app chooses to send on Android. WIRED, 19 Sep. 2022 Koester and others are now combing the area for the drum, although their search is complicated by the fact that northeastern Wyoming is full of oil and natural gas fields, and by default, oil drums. Faith Karimi, CNN, 17 Sep. 2022 Now account will have a private profile by default, like with TikTok’s standard app. Morgan Sung, NBC News, 15 Sep. 2022 By default, though, some apps make your posts visible to every sentient being and bot on the internet. Jon Healey, Los Angeles Times, 14 Sep. 2022 The jury is tasked only with determining what Jones has to pay to eight victims’ families and an FBI agent — a judge already found the Infowars host liable for damages, by default. Dave Collins And Jennifer Peltz,, 14 Sep. 2022 However, unlike the wireless-by-default Meta Quest 2, PSVR2 requires a cable connection for power and data transfer to a PlayStation 5 console. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, 14 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Economists at the New York Federal Reserve Bank found that student loan holders are less likely to move into higher paying jobs, more likely to default on other types of debt, and more likely to have lower credit scores. Nate Dicamillo, Quartz, 3 Sep. 2022 And then there’s the not-so-small matter of password reset requests that usually default to your email. Davey Winder, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 Thus, the natural inclination is to default to the least disruptive bracket that is already in place. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 14 Mar. 2022 Many merchants use cashless payment devices that default to a takeout tip ranging from 15 percent to 25 percent. Michelle Singletary, Washington Post, 16 Sep. 2022 Corporate bonds do worse when investors think the odds companies will default are rising. Matt Grossman, WSJ, 8 Sep. 2022 One concern is that the clearinghouse itself might default, the official said. Joe Wallace, WSJ, 4 Sep. 2022 The higher interest rates that some borrowers pay on their loans than others reflects lenders’ judgments about the prospects that the borrowers will default or that their collateral will be insufficient to cover the defaulted balance, or both. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 29 Aug. 2022 The strains that saw China Evergrande Group and others default late last year are getting worse as the economy slows. William Pesek, Forbes, 12 Aug. 2022 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

1 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Default.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Oct. 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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