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

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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 While this applies to a straight-up loss more than an against-the-spread defeat, the Devils’ Nov. 26 upset at the hands of Stephen F. Austin could well have a galvanizing effect against any subsequent similar failings. Skip Snow, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Duke at Clemson odds, picks and best bets," 14 Jan. 2020 But the crux of the piece is not a criticism of Trump’s political misdeeds, but rather his moral failings. Tina Vasquez, The New Republic, "Republicans Want to Make White Grievance Genteel Again," 6 Jan. 2020 For all its failings and millennial-marketing trappings, Evryman offers a program that can help men who otherwise wouldn’t examine themselves gain a cursory sense of emotional intelligence. Susan Choi, Harper's magazine, "Letters," 6 Jan. 2020 In 2019 nearly all of the best television series tended not to escapism but hard examinations of humanity and its failings. The Economist, "The best television shows of the year, as chosen by The Economist," 20 Dec. 2019 My Charley did not opt for a flame-out on live television, or even a private delineation of my failings as a friend. Laura Lippman, Longreads, "The Art of Losing Friends and Alienating People," 8 Nov. 2019 The incident exposed numerous failings by the utility, which was convicted of six felonies and is still serving a five-year probation sentence. Lizzie Johnson,, "At PG&E, a workforce on edge — and under attack — as fire season arrives," 9 June 2019 Initial responses to the allegations against McCarrick seemed to place the blame for McCarrick’s continued career advancement, at least in part, on procedural failings in the ecclesiastical system. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "A Catholic cardinal has weathered sex abuse allegations for years. Now they’re finally public," 29 July 2018 The Lion King’’ is in some ways immune to individual failings, having been constructed by director Julie Taymor as a pulsing machine whose well-oiled parts reliably cohere into a dazzling whole., "‘The Lion King’ is still a feast for the eyes — and the heart, too - The Boston Globe," 10 Oct. 2019

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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Statistics for failing

Last Updated

21 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Failing.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for failing


How to pronounce failing (audio)

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)

formal : in the absence of (something)


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on failing

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for failing

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with failing

Spanish Central: Translation of failing

Nglish: Translation of failing for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of failing for Arabic Speakers

Comments on failing

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