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

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

After two fatal police shootings of black men and a subsequent sniper attack on police in Mr. Ryan’s initial days at the helm, the Boston native responded by asking staff to gather for a series of conversations about race across the firm’s offices. Vanessa Fuhrmans, WSJ, "This Boss Is Making Race Relations a Business Matter," 13 Mar. 2019 Waiting until late 2019 risks potentially fatal inference from the U.S. presidential campaigns. Vivian Salama, WSJ, "New Nafta Is Threatened by Partisan Split Over Enforcement," 13 Feb. 2019 Multiple near-fatal heart attacks had gnarled his hands, creased his craggy face with wrinkles and yellowed his eyes. Jason Zweig, WSJ, "What Drove Jack Bogle to Upend Investing," 18 Jan. 2019 Eating food contaminated with Listeria can cause listeriosis, a serious and potentially fatal illness, according to the CDC. Jenna Flannigan, SELF, "8 Surprising Food Safety Mistakes You Might Be Making," 11 Jan. 2019 In fact, there has never been a fatal overdose at a supervised consumption site anywhere in the world. German Lopez, Vox, "A big, new review of the evidence finds that prescription heroin works," 6 Dec. 2018 Peanut allergies are among the most fatal of food allergies. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Some promising news for kids with peanut allergies," 23 Nov. 2018 When scientists made the link between amyloid and Alzheimer’s in the 1980s, drugmakers jumped on the bandwagon in the hope of inventing a trillion-dollar drug for a progressive and fatal disease that affects more than 5 million Americans. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, "A New Treatment for Alzheimer's? It Starts With Lifestyle," 16 Nov. 2018 The jury concluded that Micheail Ward was guilty of firing the fatal shot that struck Hadiya Pendleton in the back, the Chicago Tribune reported. Bradford Betz, Fox News, "Second suspect convicted in killing of Chicago honor student," 24 Aug. 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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Dictionary Entries near fatal

fast worker


fat acid




fatality rate

Statistics for fatal

Last Updated

19 Mar 2019

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 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 fatally (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

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More from Merriam-Webster on fatal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fatal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fatal

Spanish Central: Translation of fatal

Nglish: Translation of fatal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fatal for Arabic Speakers

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