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

The second came with facilities failings that generated viral photos of kids shivering in freezing classrooms. Talia Richman,, "Amid Baltimore's struggles, many see schools CEO Sonja Santelises as stabilizing force," 3 July 2019 In places such as Central Sulawesi, which has a history of sectarian violence, those failings have provided an opening for hard-liners and their message that religion, not government, is the answer. Washington Post, "When disaster hits, Indonesia’s Islamists are first to help," 12 June 2019 Bellefeuille and thousands of other line workers became frontline emblems of their employer’s failings. Lizzie Johnson,, "At PG&E, a workforce on edge — and under attack — as fire season arrives," 9 June 2019 That lends the proceedings an overall richness that elevates it well above its script's failings. Mike Scott,, "‘All Is True’ movie review: The year’s first real Oscar threat?," 7 June 2019 And some of them may have trouble eating, then, and also vent their emotions on their friends, whose failings seem less forgivable after what was depicted in the movie. Lydia Davis, Harper's magazine, "Addie and the Chili," 10 Jan. 2019 Then, there's the cultural stigma against mental health care in the black community, where mental illness can be seen as a weakness or personal failing, as SELF previously reported. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "‘Insecure’ Star Kendrick Sampson Talks About Ghosting and Going to Therapy," 2 Oct. 2018 Otherwise, don’t engage her in a conversation about your faults and failings. Amy Dickinson,, "Girlfriend's solo escapade bothers boyfriend," 18 June 2018 Otherwise, don’t engage her in a conversation about your faults and failings. Amy Dickinson,, "Girlfriend’s solo escapade bothers boyfriend," 17 June 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

8 Jul 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

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food or victuals

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