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

Pell's supporters branded his conviction as a travesty of justice carried out by a jury who were seeking to pin the blame for the Catholic Church's failings on the shoulders of a man who had in fact been working hard to help victims of Church abuse. Hilary Whiteman, CNN, "Cardinal Pell back in prison while judges consider appeal," 6 June 2019 In the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, for instance, buying with BerkShares rather than dollars signals a commitment to local labor and a screw-you to the moral failings of globalization and the Fed. Gregory Barber, WIRED, "Inside an All-White Town’s Divisive Experiment With Cryptocurrency," 6 June 2019 Who thought this was a good idea, to scapegoat books for an institution's failings? David L. Ulin,, "There will be no Nobel Prize in literature this year. And that's a shame.," 11 May 2018 The great failing of the Trump presidency has been the lack of spending restraint. James Freeman, WSJ, "Make Washington Small Again," 12 Apr. 2019 The problems with the Well Women program are the latest to hit the Health Department, which has been under scrutiny for failings in its programs to help children exposed to lead. Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Women left waiting for cancer screenings after Milwaukee Health Department stopped providing services," 10 July 2018 Microsoft promoted its Books tab simply through the Store app, without any overt marketing of its contents or any deals within—unfortunately, a somewhat typical Microsoft failing. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft has closed its e-bookstore, and everything you purchased will vanish in July," 2 Apr. 2019 The Fed’s search for the neutral rate suffers significant failings. Kevin Warsh, WSJ, "The Fault Lies in R-Star and in Ourselves," 25 Sep. 2018 But Scottie’s obliviousness to his own professional failings speaks to his egomania, and the artifice of his situation. John Anderson, WSJ, "The Heights of Obsession," 22 Feb. 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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Dictionary Entries near failing





failing grade/mark

failing that


Statistics for failing

Last Updated

10 Jun 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

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