fail

verb
\ ˈfāl How to pronounce fail (audio) \
failed; failing; fails

Definition of fail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to lose strength : weaken her health was failing
b : to fade or die away until our family line fails
c : to stop functioning normally the patient's heart failed
2a : to fall short failed in his duty
b : to be or become absent or inadequate the water supply failed
c : to be unsuccessful the marriage failed specifically : to be unsuccessful in achieving a passing grade took the exam and failed
d : to become bankrupt or insolvent banks were failing

transitive verb

1a : to disappoint the expectations or trust of her friends failed her
b : to miss performing an expected service or function for his wit failed him
2 : to be deficient in : lack never failed an invincible courage— Douglas MacArthur
3 : to leave undone : neglect fail to lock the door
4a : to be unsuccessful in passing failed chemistry
b : to grade (someone, such as a student) as not passing The teacher failed only his two worst students.

fail

noun

Definition of fail (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : failure usually used in the phrase without fail Every day, without fail, he has toast and coffee for breakfast.
2 : a failure (as by a security dealer) to deliver or receive securities within a prescribed period after purchase or sale

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Other Words from fail

Verb

failingly \ ˈfā-​liŋ-​lē How to pronounce failingly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for fail

Synonyms: Verb

break, break down, conk (out), crash, cut out, die, give out, stall

Antonyms: Verb

start (up)

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Examples of fail in a Sentence

Verb

He failed in his first attempt but succeeded in his second attempt. His first company failed, but his second company succeeded. He felt that he had failed her when she needed him most. The government has failed the voters.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Too Faced never fails to come out with cheeky products that are not only incredibly high quality but super-cute and fun to use, too. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Too Faced Dropped a Puppy-Themed Highlighter, and It's Almost Too Cute to Use," 8 May 2019 Our lives are becoming increasingly digital, so hard drives that don't fail are becoming more and more important. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Our Favorite External Hard Drive Is 60% Off Right Now," 15 Apr. 2019 ReLive will fail to run, however, if a browser is displaying protected content such as a Netflix stream. Ian Paul, PCWorld, "AMD ReLive review: A stylish video capture tool for Radeon graphics cards," 31 Jan. 2019 In a follow-up email to Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall, Stephenson alleged that the NPS executives failed to address the urgent dangers posed by the buckets. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Grand Canyon's Museum Has Reportedly Been Exposing Tourists to Uranium for 18 Years," 19 Feb. 2019 When in doubt a simple silhouette with feminine elements never fails. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "5 Chic Outfits that Take the Stress Out of Valentine's Day Dressing," 30 Jan. 2019 After failing in the House of Representatives last session, the act was reintroduced in February by Sen. Mark Pody and Rep. Jerry Sexton. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "Taylor Swift Donated More Than $100k to Fight These Disgusting Anti-LGBTQ Bills," 9 Apr. 2019 President Trump campaigned in 2016 on an infrastructure plan that has so far failed to materialize. Ken Thomas, WSJ, "Sen. Amy Klobuchar Proposes National Infrastructure Plan," 28 Mar. 2019 Opposition leader Bill Shorten joined the apology, saying Australia had failed tens of thousands of children, across generations. Trevor Marshallsea, Fox News, "PM formally apologizes to Australian child sex abuse victims," 22 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Thank you for having us ✨✨✨✨ The replies were surprisingly tame, considering how savage everyone was back in February when Khloé gave herself two extra thumbs in yet another Photoshop fail. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Khloé Kardashian Had a Major Photoshop Fail That Gave Her 14 Fingers," 9 Apr. 2019 After the plane had an engine fail, the pilots diverted to an Air Force base on the remote Alaskan Island of Shemya. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "8 Emergency Landings That Rival the 'Miracle on the Hudson'," 15 Jan. 2019 Here are her six tips to avoiding a souvenir-buying fail. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "How to Buy a Souvenir You Won't Regret," 19 Sep. 2018 Nike’s best plan is to communicate with its core consumers, investigate what happened and remedy its product fail, according to PR experts. Alexandra Bruell, WSJ, "Zion Williamson’s Ripped Sneaker Puts Nike in a Bad Spot," 21 Feb. 2019 Manhattan houses 35,000 underground and 47,000 overhead transformers for its 10 million residents, and of those 82,000, about 35 fail every year, McGee says. Cassie Rodenberg, Popular Mechanics, "How Transformers Can Explode," 28 Dec. 2018 Shop Now: Cricut Explore Air 2, $199.99, cricut.com STMT DIY Hand Stamped Jewelry Kit Handmade jewelry can typically go one of two ways — exactly as imagined, or epic fail. Erin Nicole Celletti, Teen Vogue, "8 Gift Ideas for DIY Enthusiasts 2018," 26 Nov. 2018 The agreement does little to support the recent claims in France that the club are looking to bring Areola in, however should the deal fail, which seems unlikely, Areola would prove a more than capable alternative. SI.com, "Palace & Newcastle Show Interest in PSG Star as Report Reveals Player Is 'Keen to Settle in London'," 15 May 2018 Yet, without fail, a dinner party or a cocktail gathering will manage to work its way into our downtime, far more frequently than our friends with bigger, fancier digs. Steven Stolman, Town & Country, "How the Salonnière List of the Best Party Hosts in America Is Put Together," 21 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fail.' 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 fail

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fail

Verb and Noun

Middle English failen, from Anglo-French faillir, from Vulgar Latin *fallire, alteration of Latin fallere to deceive, disappoint

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Statistics for fail

Last Updated

11 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fail

The first known use of fail was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for fail

fail

verb

English Language Learners Definition of fail

: to not succeed : to end without success
: to not succeed as a business : to become bankrupt
: to not do (something that you should do or are expected to do)

fail

verb
\ ˈfāl How to pronounce fail (audio) \
failed; failing

Kids Definition of fail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to be unsuccessful He failed the test.
2 : to grade as not passing My teacher failed me.
3 : to stop functioning The engine failed.
4 : to be or become absent or not enough The water supply failed.
5 : to become bankrupt The business failed.
6 : neglect entry 1 sense 2 Don't fail to ask if you need my help.
7 : disappoint, desert I need your help. Please don't fail me.
8 : to lose strength : weaken She's failing in health.
9 : to fall short One drink failed to satisfy my thirst.
10 : to die away The family line failed.

fail

noun

Kids Definition of fail (Entry 2 of 2)

: failure sense 2 We met daily without fail.
\ ˈfā(ə)l How to pronounce fail (audio) \

Medical Definition of fail

1 : to weaken or lose strength her health was failing
2 : to stop functioning normally the patient's heart failed

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Legal Definition of fail

1 : to be or become inadequate or unsuccessful especially in fulfilling certain formal requirements even if one or more terms are left open, a contract for sale does not fail for indefinitenessUniform Commercial Code
2 : to become bankrupt or insolvent

transitive verb

: to leave undone or neglect to do fail to appear in court fail to read a contract

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More from Merriam-Webster on fail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fail

Spanish Central: Translation of fail

Nglish: Translation of fail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fail for Arabic Speakers

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