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

The proposal, floated by the Federal Reserve and two other bank regulators, is aimed at limiting the interconnectedness of large banking organizations and reducing the impact of a failure of such a firm, the Fed said in a press release. Andrew Ackerman, WSJ, "Regulators Float Measure to Penalize Certain Debt Purchases by Large Banks," 2 Apr. 2019 It’s sometimes fear of failure dressed up in slippers and pajamas. Hannah Dylan Pasternak, SELF, "What I Learned From Having an On-Call Astrologer for a Week," 1 Apr. 2019 One of the biggest failures of the Mueller probe concerns not what was in the final report, but what was not. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "The Russians and the Dossier," 25 Apr. 2019 Few details were provided on Trevorrow's exit, but the announcement suspiciously coincided with the colossal failure of his film The Book of Henry. Adam Schubak, Popular Mechanics, "Everything We Know So Far About 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'," 12 Apr. 2019 This doesn’t, however, expose the failure of gun control altogether, but rather the limits of leaving gun policies to a patchwork of local and state laws. German Lopez, Vox, "I’ve covered gun violence for years. The solutions aren’t a big mystery.," 14 Feb. 2019 During the 1985 Maryland savings and loan crisis, Mr. Wharton took a lead role in the firm’s work with the conservatorship overseeing the failure of Old Court Savings and Loan Association. Frederick N. Rasmussen, baltimoresun.com, "John G. 'Jack' Wharton, noted real estate attorney, dies," 11 July 2018 The failure of Bloomberg to exercise or enforce any right or provision of the TOS shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. Bloomberg, "Terms of Service," 8 July 2018 But the memorial has been closed since May 6, because a connecting dock is suffering from a partial failure of its anchoring system. latimes.com, "Today: Russian Interference, European Edition," 5 July 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

18 May 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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