fa·​tal | \ ˈfā-tᵊl How to pronounce fatal (audio) \

Definition of fatal

1a : 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.
2a : determining one's fate the fatal flaw in this dazzling woman: a total lack of taste— Marya Mannes
b : of or relating to fate … this science sets a fatal necessity on things …— H. O. Taylor
c : resembling fate in proceeding according to a fixed sequence
3 : fateful a fatal hour
4 obsolete : fated

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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 Minneapolis has been on edge since the death of George Floyd, who died last year after an officer used his knee to pin Floyd's neck to the ground, and the fatal police shooting of another Black man, Daunte Wright, in a nearby suburb. Amy Forliti, Star Tribune, 16 June 2021 He was arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of 28-year-old Azeem Kwesi Smith on April 18, an OCSO spokesperson said in an unsigned release. Katie Rice, orlandosentinel.com, 16 June 2021 Tucson police released body camera footage along with other details on the fatal shooting of Joshua Lee Moore by police on May 31. Olivia Munson, The Arizona Republic, 16 June 2021 Two suspects have been arrested in connection with a fatal shooting in Spring Grove Village, according to Cincinnati police. Quinlan Bentley, The Enquirer, 16 June 2021 Biles-Thomas was arrested in 2019 on charges of murder, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault and perjury in connection with a New Year's Eve fatal shooting in Cleveland. Rebekah Riess, CNN, 15 June 2021 Hartford police are searching for a man who may be connected to a fatal shooting that occurred in late January. Jessika Harkay, courant.com, 14 June 2021 Authorities do not believe there were many witnesses around during the fatal shooting but were continuing to canvass the area Monday afternoon for anyone who may have seen the homicide. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, 14 June 2021 The city has been on edge since the death of George Floyd more than a year ago and the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright during the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty on all counts in Floyd's murder. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, 14 June 2021

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 4

History and Etymology for fatal

Middle English, from Latin fatalis, from fatum fate

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Time Traveler for fatal

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for fatal

Last Updated

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fatal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fatal. Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for fatal



English Language Learners Definition of fatal

: causing death
: causing ruin or failure


fa·​tal | \ ˈfā-tᵊl How to pronounce fatal (audio) \

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 How to pronounce fatal (audio) \

Medical Definition of fatal

: causing death a fatal diabetic coma— Havelock Ellis

Other Words from fatal

fatally \ ˈfāt-​ᵊl-​ē How to pronounce fatal (audio) \ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on fatal

Nglish: Translation of fatal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fatal for Arabic Speakers


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