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 The president’s critics say the move against WHO fits a pattern of Mr. Trump seeking to shift blame for his own failings somewhere else. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, "Beneath Trump-WHO spat, a US-China race for leadership," 16 Apr. 2020 That Shimu needs to pull off a few dirty tricks in order to edge closer to the finish line is less indicative of her own failings than of that of an entire system. Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Made in Bangladesh': Film Review | TIFF 2019," 6 Sep. 2019 An imperfect insult In the novel, Emma’s failings are plentiful. The Conversation, "Perfection comes at a price in latest adaptation of Austen’s ‘Emma’," 27 Mar. 2020 California’s Gavin Newsom, usually a fierce Trump critic, is among those who have gone out of their way not to lay the federal government’s failings during the coronavirus outbreak at Trump’s feet. Jonathan Lemire,, "Flatter or fight? Governors seeking help must navigate Trump," 26 Mar. 2020 The opioid epidemic and other public-health emergencies are being aggravated by failings in the criminal-justice system. The New Yorker, "Sunday Reading: The Crisis in Public Health Care," 12 Apr. 2020 And so the Astros’ organizational failing in the handling of a misogynistic rant by assistant general manager Brandon Taubman ultimately reflected far worse on the franchise than falling eight outs short of a championship. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Opinion: The Astros face a long road to redemption. Here is how they should address cheating scandal," 12 Feb. 2020 On grass, Everton have a clueless union of worldwide attackers whose failings in front of goal grow more miserable with each passing week., "Ranking All 20 Premier League Attacks From Worst to Best," 17 Oct. 2019 Dates stopped being about finding love and instead became open, cast-wide debates on the intentions, failings, and public opinions of Luke Parker. Ariana Romero,, "Is Peter Making A Very Luke P. Mistake On The Bachelor?," 29 Jan. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of failing was in 1590

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Statistics for failing

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Failing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 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

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