noun \ ˈfāt \
Updated on: 25 Feb 2018

Definition of fate

1 : the will or principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do : destiny
  • fate sometimes deals a straight flush … he had no idea that he would become the right man in the right place at the right time …
  • —June Goodfield
2 a : an inevitable and often adverse outcome, condition, or end
  • Her fate was to remain in exile.
b : disaster; especially : death
  • The villain met his fate at the hands of the hero.
3 a : final outcome
  • Congress decided the bill's fate by a single vote.
b : the expected result of normal development
  • prospective fate of embryonic cells
c : the circumstances that befall someone or something
  • did not know the fate of her former classmates
4 Fates plural : the three goddesses, Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis, who determine the course of human life in classical mythology

Examples of fate in a Sentence

  1. … the fate of our species is bound up with those of countless others, with which we share a habitat that we cannot long dominate … —John GrayTimes Literary Supplement11 Sept. 1992
  2. So what went wrong? I ask Syd again, glancing ahead to the inevitable end. What quirk of fate, this time round, Syd, checked the great man's stride? —John le CarréA Perfect Spy1986
  3. Often there is a specified character on whom a work hinges and whose fate we follow, a Raskolnikov or a Hamlet … —Robert Penn WarrenDemocracy and Poetry1975
  4. The money goes down one-two-three on the table, fives and tens and twenties, and the wheel begins to spin. Round and round she goes, where she stops nobody knows. It's up to fate. Kismet, as they say. —Mordecai RichlerThe Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz1959
  5. They thought they would never see each other again, but fate brought them back together.

  6. a surprising turn of fate

  7. One company went bankrupt, and a similar fate befell the other.

  8. Her fate was sealed by the marriage arrangement made in her youth.

Recent Examples of fate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of fate

Middle English, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin fatum, literally, what has been spoken, from neuter of fatus, past participle of fari to speak — more at ban

Synonym Discussion of fate

fate, destiny, lot, portion, doom mean a predetermined state or end. fate implies an inevitable and usually an adverse outcome.
    • the fate of the submarine is unknown
destiny implies something foreordained and often suggests a great or noble course or end.
    • the country's destiny to be a model of liberty to the world
lot and portion imply a distribution by fate or destiny, lot suggesting blind chance
    • it was her lot to die childless
, portion implying the apportioning of good and evil.
    • remorse was his daily portion
doom distinctly implies a grim or calamitous fate.
    • if the rebellion fails, his doom is certain



verb \ ˈfāt \

Definition of fate

fated; fating
transitive verb
: destine; also : doom

Examples of fate in a Sentence

  1. Given what was going on when the magazine was started, Utne Reader seems fated to have happened—it was simply an idea that fit the times. —Eric UtneUtne ReaderMarch/April 1994
  2. It was during this interregnum between the acquisition of regional power and the actual use of it that Henderson was fated to enter the picture. —Robert D. KaplanThe Arabists1993
  3. Who are my viewing companions at this hour? Dazed and confused, we are isolated in sunken couches, empty beds and cheap hotel rooms across this crumbling nation, one through MTV but fated never to meet. —Hugh GallagherRolling Stone29 Apr. 1993
  4. the warning that the lack of an advanced education will fate a person to a lifetime of below-average earnings

Origin and Etymology of fate

see 1fate

FATE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of fate for English Language Learners

  • : a power that is believed to control what happens in the future

  • : the things that will happen to a person or thing : the future that someone or something will have

FATE Defined for Kids


noun \ ˈfāt \

Definition of fate for Students

1 : a power beyond human control that is believed to determine what happens : destiny
  • It was fate that brought them together.
2 : something that happens as though determined by fate : fortune
  • She stood … watching the sad fate of her comrades …
  • —L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz
3 : final outcome
  • Voters will decide the fate of the election.

Medical Dictionary


noun \ ˈfāt \

medical Definition of fate

: the expected result of normal development
  • prospective fate of embryonic cells

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