fa·tal | \ˈfā-tᵊl \

Definition of fatal 

1 obsolete : fated

2 : fateful a fatal hour

3a : of or relating to fate … this science sets a fatal necessity on things …— H. O. Taylor

b : resembling fate in proceeding according to a fixed sequence

c : determining one's fate the fatal flaw in this dazzling woman: a total lack of taste— Marya Mannes

4a : causing death a fatal crash a fatal disease a fatal wound

b : bringing ruin a fatal attraction to gambling

c : causing failure a fatal design flaw Lack of sufficient support was fatal to his campaign.

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Choose the Right Synonym for fatal

deadly, mortal, fatal, lethal mean causing or capable of causing death. deadly applies to an established or very likely cause of death. a deadly disease mortal implies that death has occurred or is inevitable. a mortal wound fatal stresses the inevitability of what has in fact resulted in death or destruction. fatal consequences lethal applies to something that is bound to cause death or exists for the destruction of life. lethal gas

Examples of fatal in a Sentence

a disease that is often fatal a chemical that can be fatal to birds She made a fatal mistake.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Thomason faces charges of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, leaving the scene of a fatal crash, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE. PEOPLE.com, "Dental Hygienist Allegedly Fatally Rammed Woman with Her Mercedes — and Said God Made Her Do It," 12 July 2018 Amtrak officials told federal investigators Wednesday that two recent fatal crashes had prompted an unprecedented focus on safety for the railroad. Lori Aratani, Washington Post, "Amtrak says new focus on safety will make rail travel safer for all," 11 July 2018 The comments came at a two-day hearing of the National Transportation Safety Board about fatal Amtrak crashes. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Railroads have improved safety since fatal S.C. collision, Amtrak and CSX officials say," 10 July 2018 Tap or click here for my take on Arizona’s fatal Uber crash. Kim Komando, Fox News, "Stop robocalls, free TV, anonymous browsing and more: Tech Q&A," 7 July 2018 In Georgia, where insurance premiums are high and the number of fatal crashes has been increasing, the new law gets specific. Justine Mcdaniel, Philly.com, "One hand on the wheel, one on the phone: Still legal while driving in Pa.," 6 July 2018 Uber has laid off its self-driving car safety operators in Pittsburgh as the company reevaluates its autonomous vehicle strategy following a fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona, in March, Quartz reports and the company confirms. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Uber laid off its self-driving car safety drivers in Pittsburgh," 11 July 2018 The stretches, totaling nearly 40 miles, accounted for 97 fatal crashes and 101 fatalities, the AJC previously reported. Fiza Pirani, ajc, "Driving in Atlanta is painful — but it’s far from the worst," 11 July 2018 Blue and red tarps covering a white passenger vehicle with its front-end smashed were seen in photos taken from the scene of the fatal collision. Amy Lieu, Fox News, "Adult, 4 children from NJ killed in Delaware crash of minivan, pickup truck," 7 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fatal.' 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 fatal

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fatal

Middle English, from Latin fatalis, from fatum fate

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Learn More about fatal

Dictionary Entries near fatal

fast worker


fat acid




fatality rate

Statistics for fatal

Last Updated

17 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fatal

The first known use of fatal was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for fatal



English Language Learners Definition of fatal

: causing death

: causing ruin or failure


fa·tal | \ˈfā-tᵊl \

Kids Definition of fatal

1 : causing death : mortal fatal injuries

2 : causing ruin or failure a fatal mistake

Other Words from fatal

fatally adverb


fa·tal | \ˈfāt-ᵊl \

Medical Definition of fatal 

: causing death a fatal diabetic coma— Havelock Ellis

Other Words from fatal

fatally \ˈfāt-ᵊl-ē \ adverb

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Legal Definition of fatal 

1 : causing failure of a legal claim or cause of action a fatal defect in the proceedings— W. R. LaFave and J. H. Israel

2 : making something (as a contract) invalid or unenforceable there is a fatal indefiniteness with the result that the agreement is void— J. D. Calamari and J. M. Perillo

Other Words from fatal

fatally adverb

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Comments on fatal

What made you want to look up fatal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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