failure

noun

fail·​ure ˈfāl-yər How to pronounce failure (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
: lack of success
b
: a failing in business : bankruptcy
He was trying to rescue the company from failure.
3
a
: 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.

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The driver was issued an infraction for failure to maintain a proper lane, according to state police. Mike Mavredakis, Hartford Courant, 23 Nov. 2022 Concentrating kids with emotional and behavioral problems into one school is a setup for failure, say parents, advocates and staff who work at the schools. Abigail Kramer, ProPublica, 17 Nov. 2022 On this very day, the city has at least 11 warrants out for Brunner’s arrest, for failure to pay his fines. jsonline.com, 16 Nov. 2022 Anala, a beloved 17-year-old Bengal mix tiger at the Franklin Park Zoo in Dorchester, was euthanized Monday, weeks after she was put on end-of-life care for kidney failure, zoo officials said. Bailey Allen, BostonGlobe.com, 15 Nov. 2022 It was also learned that the man was wanted on a Parma police warrant for failure to appear in court. cleveland, 15 Nov. 2022 The United Auto Workers has filed 28 unfair labor practices against the UC system this year for failure to bargain in good faith. Lauren Kaori Gurley, Washington Post, 14 Nov. 2022 He was cited for failure to yield to a stop sign and for not wearing a seat belt. Antonio Planas, NBC News, 10 Nov. 2022 That November, he was hospitalized for liver and kidney failure and died at the age of 67. Grace Gavilanes, Peoplemag, 8 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1643, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of failure was in 1643

Dictionary Entries Near failure

Cite this Entry

“Failure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/failure. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

failure

noun

fail·​ure ˈfā(ə)l-yər How to pronounce failure (audio)
1
a
: a failing to do or perform
failure to pass the test
b
: neglect of an assigned or expected action
failure to pay on time
c
: inability to perform a normal function well enough
heart failure
2
a
: a lack of success
failure in the campaign
b
: bankruptcy
a business failure
3
a
: a falling short : deficiency
crop failure
b
: a breaking down
a failure of memory
4
: one that has failed
the scheme was a complete failure

Medical Definition

failure

noun

fail·​ure ˈfā(ə)l-yər How to pronounce failure (audio)
: a state of inability to perform a vital function
acute renal failure
respiratory failure
see heart failure

Legal Definition

failure

noun

fail·​ure
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

More from Merriam-Webster on failure

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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