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

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 Raden may be a blip in the greater history of startup failure, but the experience was traumatic for Udashkin, and one that he’s still working through in therapy. Chavie Lieber, Vox, "When the “best” busts: the spectacular rise and fall of smart luggage startup Raden," 12 Dec. 2018 On November 19, a code change that had been progressively deployed over the previous six days provoked a cascade of failures. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Microsoft explains one Azure authentication outage as another one happens," 27 Nov. 2018 This month, your old concept of failure is being blown out of the water. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Monthly Lovescopes October 2018," 3 Oct. 2018 The effects of the housing market failure are widespread: In 2016, over one million households were evicted, with the highest concentrations of evictions happening in the southeast. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Two senators are proposing national rent relief bills. Here’s why it matters," 10 Aug. 2018 That level of failure has to have an impact on the overall psyche of the team and on the ability of the players to remain focused on team goals. Peter Schmuck, baltimoresun.com, "Schmuck: During season on the brink, Orioles are losing the head games, too," 14 July 2018 In their run to the last four, England re-engaged with a fanbase disaffected by decades of failure at international tournaments, most notably in a humiliating exit to Iceland at Euro 2016. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "Kane: 'there's a great future' for England after World Cup run," 12 July 2018 Despite Matchbook’s own history of failure in two different states, and the abysmal performance of hybrid charters across Indiana, only one board member voted against Matchbook’s takeover of School 63 — Elizabeth Gore. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "What’s really going on in Indiana’s public schools," 12 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

9 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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