fail·​ing | \ˈfā-liŋ \

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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for failing

Synonyms: Noun

demerit, dereliction, fault, foible, frailty, shortcoming, sin, vice, want, weakness

Antonyms: Noun

merit, virtue

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Choose the Right Synonym for failing


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


He has some minor failings. we could talk about your failings, but it would take all night


Failing progress in the peace process, war seems likely.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Nine-Nine comparison in particular also makes The Good Cop’s refusal to address its cultural context seem like a more major failing, as the place of law enforcement in the modern world is inherently thorny. Karen Han, Vox, "Josh Groban and Tony Danza’s appealing odd-couple dynamic can’t quite save The Good Cop," 21 Sep. 2018 In part, the opportunity for Democratic mayors is a product of the party’s failings elsewhere. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Trump scores on his own goal," 16 July 2018 And, somewhat remarkably, when addressing England’s failings at previous tournaments, those three characteristics have always been absent., "90Min World Cup Fan Diaries: Starting to Believe," 8 July 2018 The letter from Sidwell graduates focuses on what the petition signers believe are the moral failings of the administration’s immigration policies. Perry Stein, Washington Post, "Sidwell graduates urge Trump official, a fellow alum, to nix immigration policies," 9 July 2018 Unlike my children, my books are cruelly unforgiving of my weaknesses, failings and flaws of character. Heidi Stevens,, "For Father's Day, reflecting on a dad who improves all that he touches," 15 June 2018 But there are reasonable arguments on both sides of the issue; Pai’s acting on one of them is hardly a moral failing. Theodore Kupfer, National Review, "Online Activists Launch Racist Attacks against Ajit Pai," 8 Jan. 2018 Nearly a year later, Baba Raghav Das Medical College and Hospital in the town of Gorakhpur is synonymous with the failings of India’s public healthcare system. Parth M.n.,, "When an Indian hospital was running out of oxygen, these doctors tried to help. So why were they sent to jail?," 29 June 2018 America’s failings are treated as singular, not its promise. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "A New Gateway to the West," 2 July 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near failing





failing grade/mark

failing that


Statistics for failing

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for failing

The first known use of failing was in 1590

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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)


fail·​ing | \ˈfā-ling \

Kids Definition of failing

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on failing

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with failing

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for failing

Spanish Central: Translation of failing

Nglish: Translation of failing for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of failing for Arabic Speakers

Comments on failing

What made you want to look up failing? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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