failure

noun
fail·​ure | \ ˈfāl-yər \

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

Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Taco Bell What’s an example of a success and a failure? Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "Why we’re in a golden age of novelty food items and bizarre flavors," 21 Dec. 2018 In light of the increasing need for resilient infrastructure, the failure of the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan seems even more of a missed opportunity. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Climate change and the coming coastal real estate crash," 16 Oct. 2018 Following the failure of her latest biography, Israel struggled to make ends meet and ultimately went on welfare. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The True Story of Lee Israel and the Literary Forgeries in Can You Ever Forgive Me?," 12 Sep. 2018 Expensive Jeans The story is undeniably tragic, but an important testament to the failures of our criminal justice system. Hanna Lustig, Teen Vogue, "Ava Duvernay's "Central Park Five" Adds Jharrel Jerome and Jovan Adepo to Cast," 25 July 2018 Padmavati and her collaborators were weighing possible causes of cor pulmonale, a failure of the right side of the heart linked to lung problems. Sara Morrison, USA TODAY, "In developing world, an expensive push to reduce cooking fire deaths falls short," 13 July 2018 Even many climate activists think the CPP was an imperfect solution – a way to use existing legislation in a somewhat clunky way, given the failure of Congress to craft a bill that more directly targets climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. Mark Trumbull, The Christian Science Monitor, "From new leadership to Clean Power Plan, subtle shifts ripple through EPA," 11 July 2018 What will the failure of 2017-18 and the wasted stretch under first Jürgen Klinsmann and then Bruce Arena mean for the next two cycles? Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "2026 World Cup jointly hosted by U.S. will be weird, watered-down — and spectacular," 10 July 2018 One of the most important science experiments of all time was a complete and utter failure. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, "The Eternal Quest for Aether, the Cosmic Stuff That Never Was," 19 Oct. 2018

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

12 Jan 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
fail·​ure | \ ˈfāl-yər \

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 \

Medical Definition of failure

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

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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