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

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

Her focus has been on education, wealth inequalities throughout the state and infrastructure failings, including the crumbling subway in New York City. Katie Honan, WSJ, "Cynthia Nixon’s Latest Role: Gubernatorial Candidate Looking for an Upset," 9 Sep. 2018 The true stars here, though, are the failings of human nature. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "HBO imports an incredibly dark, starkly funny comedy.," 20 Nov. 2018 When Wilson, a once-successful stockbroker, descended into alcoholism in the 1920s and 30s, addiction was largely regarded as a moral failing, a crime, a sin — or all three. Gillian Brockell, Washington Post, "Lost for decades, the Alcoholics Anonymous original manuscript will be auctioned for millions," 9 Mar. 2018 When Wilson, a once-successful stockbroker, descended into alcoholism in the 1920s and 30s, addiction was largely regarded as a moral failing, a crime, a sin - or all three. Gillian Brockell,, "Lost for decades, Alcoholics Anonymous manuscript to be auctioned for millions," 9 Mar. 2018 Most people recognize that addiction is a problem in our country, but too many people think of it as a character flaw, as a bad choice, as a moral failing. Susan Spencer, Woman's Day, "The U.S. Surgeon General Wants To Change How We Think About Drug Addiction," 8 Sep. 2016 The prevailing ignorance about Native people does not stem from individual failings but rather from the systemic erasure of Native people from K-12 education, mainstream news, and pop culture. Rebecca Nagle, Teen Vogue, "Invisibility is the Modern Form of Racism Against Native Americans," 23 Oct. 2018 When the old man finally mans up to his failings, the movie succeeds with special poignancy. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘The Mule’ Review: From Horticulture to Drug Culture," 13 Dec. 2018 Expecting data Following the study’s publication, obstetrics and gynecology experts were quick to point out its failings. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "“Natural” birth-control app dogged by unwanted pregnancies gets FDA approval," 15 Aug. 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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Learn More about failing

Dictionary Entries near failing





failing grade/mark

failing that


Statistics for failing

Last Updated

18 Mar 2019

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)

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

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).


to boil down or concentrate

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