\ ˈfer How to pronounce fair (audio) \

Definition of fair

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a : marked by impartiality and honesty : free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism a very fair person to do business with
b(1) : conforming with the established rules : allowed
(2) : consonant with merit or importance : due a fair share
c : open to legitimate pursuit, attack, or ridicule fair game
2a : not very good or very bad : of average or acceptable quality Her work was only fair. a patient upgraded from serious to fair condition
b : sufficient but not ample : adequate a fair understanding of the work a fair chance of winning
c : moderately numerous, large, or significant takes a fair amount of time a fair number of participants
3 : not stormy or foul : fine fair weather
4 : having very little color, coloring, or pigmentation : very light fair hair fair skin a person of fair complexion
5 : pleasing to the eye or mind especially because of fresh, charming, or flawless quality The innkeeper had two fair daughters.
6 : superficially pleasing : specious she trusted his fair promises
7a : clean, pure fair sparkling water
b : clear, legible an old manuscript written in a fair hand
8 : ample a fair estate
9a : promising, likely in a fair way to win
b : favorable to a ship's course a fair wind
10 : being such to the utmost : utter a fair treat to watch himNew Republic
11 archaic : free of obstacles


noun (1)

Definition of fair (Entry 2 of 5)

1 : a gathering of buyers and sellers at a particular place and time for trade
2a : a competitive exhibition usually with accompanying entertainment and amusements an agricultural fair
b : an exhibition designed to acquaint prospective buyers or the general public with a product a book fair
c : an exposition that promotes the availability of services or opportunities health fairs job fairs
3 : a sale of assorted articles usually for a charitable purpose



Definition of fair (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : in a manner that is honest or impartial or that conforms to rules : in a fair manner play fair
2 chiefly British : fairly sense 3 fair makes you want to cry


faired; fairing; fairs

Definition of fair (Entry 4 of 5)

intransitive verb

of the weather : clear

transitive verb

: to join so that the external surfaces blend smoothly


noun (2)

Definition of fair (Entry 5 of 5)

1 : something that is fair or fortunate (see fair entry 1)
2 obsolete : beauty, fairness
3 archaic : woman especially : sweetheart
for fair
: to the greatest extent or degree : fully the rush is on for fair
no fair
: something that is not according to the rules that's no fair

Synonyms & Antonyms for fair

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun (1)

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adverb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for fair


fair, just, equitable, impartial, unbiased, dispassionate, objective mean free from favor toward either or any side. fair implies a proper balance of conflicting interests. a fair decision just implies an exact following of a standard of what is right and proper. a just settlement of territorial claims equitable implies a less rigorous standard than just and usually suggests equal treatment of all concerned. the equitable distribution of the property impartial stresses an absence of favor or prejudice. an impartial third party unbiased implies even more strongly an absence of all prejudice. your unbiased opinion dispassionate suggests freedom from the influence of strong feeling and often implies cool or even cold judgment. a dispassionate summation of the facts objective stresses a tendency to view events or persons as apart from oneself and one's own interest or feelings. I can't be objective about my own child

synonyms see in addition beautiful

Fair in Love and War

For many people, the word fair brings to mind the aphorism “all is fair in love and war.” We have been using some variation of this saying for quite some time, although, as with many such expressions, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when it began. As far back as 1578 John Lyly wrote “anye impietie may lawfully be committed in loue, which is lawlesse.” We do not see evidence of war juxtaposed with love until 1687, when Aphra Behn wrote “All Advantages are lawful in Love and War” in her play The Emperor of the Moon. By 1717 this had morphed into “All advantages are fair in love and war” in William Taverner’s play The Artful Husband. Finally, by 1789 we find the line used exactly as it is today in the novel The Relapse: “Tho’ this was a confounded lie, my friend, ‘all is fair in love and war’.”

Examples of fair in a Sentence

Adjective "You boys not looking for any trouble, are you?" The question was fair. Millat's Crew looked like trouble. — Zadie Smith, White Teeth, (2000) 2001 "I have a good relationship with both Eddie and David. I think they've been fair to me." — Joni Mitchell, quoted in Rolling Stone, 30 May 1991 Everybody out, the Iraqis said, except CNN. Even CNN isn't sure why they made that decision. Perhaps it is because CNN alone is seen globally. What the Iraqis told us is that they had found our coverage since August to have been "fair." — Peter Arnett, Washington Post, 25-31 Mar. 1991 That's a fair question, and it deserves an honest reply. He is known as a very fair man. I try to be fair to my children. He claims that the competition wasn't fair. It's not fair that she gets to leave early and I don't. a fair and impartial jury a bargain that is fair to everyone “What a bad movie!” “Be fair! Parts of it are actually pretty funny.” I can't say I liked the movie, but, to be fair, parts of it are pretty funny. She did poorly on the test, but, to be fair, so did a lot of other people. Noun (1) At night the sparkling lights, hurdy-gurdy music of the merry-go-round, excited children, and screams of the riders on the roller coaster that races overhead recall the gaiety of a carnival midway at a county fair. — Witold Rybczynski, Atlantic, May 1993 Back at the street fair, in the smoky heat among vendors of souvenirs and street food, a flock of kids dances around a boom box playing Lionel Richie. — Barbara Kingsolver, New York Times Magazine, 12 Sept. 1993 "Do you like to go out? You know, party?" "Who doesn't?" "Well, the Ebony Fashion Fair is in three weeks. You want to go?" — Terry McMillan, Waiting to Exhale, 1992 Adverb we expect everyone on this basketball court to play fair it fair takes your breath away when you find out what properties in London are going for See More

First Known Use of fair


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 5

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1635, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Noun (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for fair

Adjective, Adverb, Verb, and Noun (2)

Middle English fager, fair, from Old English fæger; akin to Old High German fagar beautiful

Noun (1)

Middle English feire, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin feria weekday, fair, from Late Latin, festal day, from Latin feriae (plural) holidays — more at feast

Learn More About fair

Time Traveler for fair

Time Traveler

The first known use of fair was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near fair



fair's fair

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for fair

Cite this Entry

“Fair.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fair. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for fair


\ ˈfer How to pronounce fair (audio) \
fairer; fairest

Kids Definition of fair

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : not favoring one over another Everyone received fair treatment.
2 : observing the rules fair play
3 : neither good nor bad He's only a fair singer.
4 : not stormy or cloudy fair weather
5 : not dark fair hair
6 : attractive in appearance : beautiful our fair city
7 : being within the foul lines a fair ball

Other Words from fair

fairness noun



Kids Definition of fair (Entry 2 of 3)

: according to the rules play fair



Kids Definition of fair (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : a large public event at which farm animals and products are shown and entertainment, amusements, and food are provided a county fair
2 : an event at which people gather to buy, sell, or get information a job fair a book fair
3 : a sale of articles for charity a church fair



Legal Definition of fair

1 : characterized by honesty and justice : free from self-interest, deception, injustice, or favoritism a fair and impartial tribunal
2 : reasonable as a basis for exchange a fair wage a fair valuation
3 : consistent with merit or importance fair and just compensation for the injuries
4 : conforming with established laws or standards : being in accordance with a person's rights under the law fair judicial process

Other Words from fair

fairly adverb
fairness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on fair

Nglish: Translation of fair for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fair for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fair


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!