fail·​ing | \ ˈfā-liŋ How to pronounce failing (audio) \

Definition of failing

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a usually slight or insignificant defect in character, conduct, or ability



Definition of failing (Entry 2 of 2)

: in absence or default of failing specific instructions, use your own judgment

Synonyms & Antonyms for failing

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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fault, failing, frailty, foible, vice mean an imperfection or weakness of character. fault implies a failure, not necessarily culpable, to reach some standard of perfection in disposition, action, or habit. a writer of many virtues and few faults failing suggests a minor shortcoming in character. being late is a failing of mine frailty implies a general or chronic proneness to yield to temptation. human frailties foible applies to a harmless or endearing weakness or idiosyncrasy. an eccentric's charming foibles vice can be a general term for any imperfection or weakness, but it often suggests violation of a moral code or the giving of offense to the moral sensibilities of others. compulsive gambling was his vice

Examples of failing in a Sentence

Noun He has some minor failings. we could talk about your failings, but it would take all night Preposition Failing progress in the peace process, war seems likely.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For a long time, Phillips cataloged every failing and filed away each disappointment, until there were too many to count. Greg Borowski,, 20 Dec. 2021 As more of these examples piled up, a high-definition portrait emerged of a coach who was struggling—and failing—to adjust to a new universe. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, 16 Dec. 2021 Last week’s failing grades went to Colorado State’s confused field goal unit. Scooby Axson, USA TODAY, 1 Nov. 2021 Reactions to informing the companies of their failing grades varied. Doug Gollan, Forbes, 5 May 2021 In almost every segment, the character was shown attempting — and failing — to defuse an incendiary device before a timer runs out. New York Times, 8 Dec. 2021 Birmingham provides just enough of Dostoevsky’s plot to make the novel intelligible without feeling the need to spend pages on deadening summary (so often a failing in books about books). Washington Post, 3 Dec. 2021 But its most damning contents revolve around the cover-up of nursing home deaths in the early months of the pandemic—an indelible moral failing that the ex-governor still has not been held accountable for. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 24 Nov. 2021 This week's outbursts have also drowned out an effective midterm election message that McCarthy was pushing for months about Biden's presidency failing -- on the economy, on the pandemic, on the border and abroad. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 17 Nov. 2021

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

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First Known Use of failing


1590, in the meaning defined above


1810, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for failing

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The first known use of failing was in 1590

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Dictionary Entries Near failing



failing grade/mark

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Statistics for failing

Last Updated

3 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Failing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for failing



English Language Learners Definition of failing

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a weakness or problem in a person's character, behavior, or ability



English Language Learners Definition of failing (Entry 2 of 2)

: in the absence of (something) : without


fail·​ing | \ ˈfā-ling How to pronounce failing (audio) \

Kids Definition of failing

: a weakness or flaw in a person's character, behavior, or ability

More from Merriam-Webster on failing

Nglish: Translation of failing for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of failing for Arabic Speakers


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