failure

noun
fail·​ure | \ ˈfāl-yər How to pronounce failure (audio) \

Definition of failure

1a : omission of occurrence or performance specifically : a failing to perform a duty or expected action failure to pay the rent on time
b(1) : a state of inability to perform a normal function kidney failure — compare heart failure
(2) : an abrupt cessation of normal functioning a power failure
c : a fracturing or giving way under stress structural failure
2a : lack of success
b : a failing in business : bankruptcy He was trying to rescue the company from failure.
3a : a falling short : deficiency a crop failure
4 : one that has failed He felt like a failure when he wasn't accepted into law school.

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Examples of failure in a Sentence

He became discouraged by his repeated failures in business. He was often crippled by his fear of failure. The accident was caused by engine failure. The patient was suffering from heart failure. The accident was caused by a failure to use proper procedures. She was criticized for failure to follow directions. The drought caused crop failure. He felt like a failure when he wasn't accepted into law school. The scheme was a complete failure.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In 2015, a dam failure by a Vale joint venture killed 19 people. Scott Patterson, WSJ, "Glencore Contractor in Congo Spills Acid, Killing 20," 22 Feb. 2019 Alonso made a strong bid to win in 2017 before a late-race engine failure. Jim Vertuno, The Seattle Times, "IndyCar revving up tons of momentum for 2019 season," 11 Feb. 2019 This is all very reassuring, because having picky kids is yet another metric by which to feel like a failure as a parent. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Picky Eaters? For Parents, Food-Shaming Is All Too Real," 28 Jan. 2019 The guide notes that substance use disorder is a diagnosable and treatable condition, which firmly roots it as a medical issue — not a moral failure. Vera Papisova, Teen Vogue, "Demi Lovato Reportedly Left Rehab. What Happens Now?," 5 Nov. 2018 Travelers to Gatwick Airport today are being forced to get flight information off a whiteboard after a Verizon fibre optic cable failure left information screens across all terminals blank. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "Information Screens at Gatwick Airport Are Currently Down," 20 Aug. 2018 One success story doesn't justify a dozen failures. SI.com, "Mike Ashley Must Be Proactive if He Wants Rafa Benitez to Sign a New Contract at Newcastle," 11 July 2018 But a failure to provide effective treatment for addiction can be. Felice J. Freyer, BostonGlobe.com, "Addicted people often end up in jail. That can be deadly for them," 9 July 2018 What's worse is that physical keyboards are an enormous point of failure for devices that are notoriously unrepairable. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "The Keyboard Phone Just Will Not Die," 28 Feb. 2019

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

1643, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for failure

alteration of earlier failer, from Anglo-French, from Old French faillir to fail

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Statistics for failure

Last Updated

23 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for failure

The first known use of failure was in 1643

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More Definitions for failure

failure

noun

English Language Learners Definition of failure

: a lack of success in some effort
: a situation or occurrence in which something does not work as it should
: an occurrence in which someone does not do something that should be done

failure

noun
fail·​ure | \ ˈfāl-yər How to pronounce failure (audio) \

Kids Definition of failure

1 : a lack of success The experiment resulted in failure.
2 : the act of neglecting or forgetting to do or perform I was disappointed by his failure to keep a promise.
3 : an instance of not working properly power failure a failure of memory
4 : a loss of the ability to work normally heart failure
5 : someone or something that has not succeeded The new show was a failure.
6 : an instance of falling short crop failure

failure

noun
fail·​ure | \ ˈfā(ə)l-yər How to pronounce failure (audio) \

Medical Definition of failure

: a state of inability to perform a vital function acute renal failure respiratory failure — see heart failure

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failure

noun
fail·​ure

Legal Definition of failure

1 : omission of occurrence or performance specifically : a failing to perform a duty or expected action a failure to mitigate damages failure to prosecute
2 : a lack of success or adequacy failure of a suit
3 : a failing in business

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More from Merriam-Webster on failure

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for failure

Spanish Central: Translation of failure

Nglish: Translation of failure for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of failure for Arabic Speakers

Comments on failure

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