fair

1 of 5

adjective

1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
7
a
: clean, pure
fair sparkling water
b
: clear, legible
an old manuscript written in a fair hand
8
: ample
a fair estate
9
a
: 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

fair

2 of 5

noun (1)

1
: a gathering of buyers and sellers at a particular place and time for trade
2
a
: 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

fair

3 of 5

adverb

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

fair

4 of 5

verb

faired; fairing; fairs

intransitive verb

of the weather : clear

transitive verb

: to join so that the external surfaces blend smoothly

fair

5 of 5

noun (2)

1
: something that is fair or fortunate (see fair entry 1)
2
obsolete : beauty, fairness
3
archaic : woman
especially : sweetheart
Phrases
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

Did you know?

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’.”

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

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
a dazzling array of sleek cabin cruisers at the annual boat fair 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
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Life is not fair: Speaking of independence, news came this week that Punk in the Park: American Road Trip — a festival featuring Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, T.S.O.L., Alkaline Trio, The Vandals and others — is coming to Florida on Sept. 14. Ben Crandell, Sun Sentinel, 4 July 2024 To be fair, the cake part of the Food Network’s Fireworks Bundt Cake was, in fact, cake. Amy Drew Thompson, Orlando Sentinel, 3 July 2024
Noun
Leroy now wants to leverage the fair’s strengths as a business partner and its community to better serve the women in the industry. Sofia Celeste, WWD, 3 July 2024 Several states are requiring lactating cows to be tested for flu before they can be brought to fairs. Andrew Joseph, STAT, 26 June 2024
Adverb
In addition to rides, bouncy castles, live entertainment and food, the fair featured a wrestling show. Erin Clack, Peoplemag, 5 June 2024 More than 30 Minnesota mystery/crime writers are slated to appear at the book fair presented by St. Michael Regional Library Friends of the Library in partnership with Twin Cities Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities, 14 Apr. 2024
Verb
Business News 10 major restaurant chains that have closed locations in 2024 Popular restaurants like Applebee's and Red Lobster are shuttering spots because of economic woes By Start Slideshow Big restaurant chains aren’t fairing too well in the inflation economy. Francisco Velasquez, Quartz, 3 July 2024 Its sleek, white, and slightly birdlike silhouette measures 30 feet long with wings that stow for launch and enable the spaceplane to fit inside a conventional rocket fairing. Jaclyn Trop, Robb Report, 25 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for fair 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fair.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Adjective

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

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

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

Verb

1635, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Noun (2)

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near fair

Cite this Entry

“Fair.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fair. Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

fair

1 of 3 adjective
ˈfa(ə)r How to pronounce fair (audio)
ˈfe(ə)r
1
: attractive in appearance : beautiful
our fair city
2
a
: clean entry 1 sense 2, pure
fair sparkling water
b
: clear entry 1 sense 3, legible
make a fair copy
3
: not stormy or cloudy
fair weather
4
a
: unbiased, just
wanted fair treatment
b
: observing the rules : allowed
fair play
c
: open to lawful pursuit or attack
fair game
5
a
: promising, likely
a fair chance of winning
b
: favorable to a ship's course
a fair wind
6
: not dark
fair skin
7
: neither good nor bad
did a fair job
fairness noun

fair

2 of 3 adverb
: in a fair manner
play fair

fair

3 of 3 noun
1
: a gathering of buyers and sellers for trade
2
: an exhibition (as of farm products) usually with accompanying entertainment, amusements, and competitions
3
: a sale of articles usually for a charitable purpose
Etymology

Adjective

Old English fæger "pleasing to the eye or mind"

Noun

Middle English feire "a gathering of buyers and sellers," from early French feire (same meaning), from Latin feria "weekday, fair," derived from earlier feriae (plural) "holidays"

Legal Definition

fair

adjective
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
fairly adverb
fairness noun

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