\ˈfȯlt, in poetry also ˈfȯt\

Definition of fault 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 obsolete : lack

2a : weakness, failing especially : a moral weakness less serious than a vice He loves her despite her many faults.

b : a physical or intellectual imperfection or impairment : defect a theory with some serious faults

c : an error especially in service in a net or racket game She committed too many faults to win the match.

3a : misdemeanor a small boy's faults

b : mistake The misplacement of "only" is one of the most common writing faults.

4 : responsibility for wrongdoing or failure the accident was the driver's fault

5 : a fracture in the crust of a planet (such as the earth) or moon accompanied by a displacement of one side of the fracture with respect to the other usually in a direction parallel to the fracture Frequent earthquakes have occurred along the San Andreas Fault.

at fault

1 : unable to find the scent and continue chase

2 : open to blame : responsible you were really at fault

to a fault

: to an excessive degree precise to a fault


faulted; faulting; faults

Definition of fault (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to commit a fault : err

2 : to fracture so as to produce a geologic fault

transitive verb

1 : to find a fault in easy to praise this book and to fault it— H. G. Roepke

2 : to produce a geologic fault in

3 : blame, censure can't fault them for not coming

Illustration of fault

Illustration of fault


fault 5: 1 fault with displaced strata a, b, c, d, e; 2 scarp

In the meaning defined above

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Synonyms & Antonyms for fault

Synonyms: Noun

demerit, dereliction, failing, foible, frailty, shortcoming, sin, vice, want, weakness

Synonyms: Verb

blame, censure, condemn, criticize, denounce, knock, pan, reprehend

Antonyms: Noun

merit, virtue

Antonyms: Verb

extol (also extoll), laud, praise

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Choose the Right Synonym for fault


fault, failing, frailty, foible, vice mean an imperfection or weakness of character. fault implies a failure, not necessarily culpable, to reach some standard of perfection in disposition, action, or habit. a writer of many virtues and few faults failing suggests a minor shortcoming in character. being late is a failing of mine frailty implies a general or chronic proneness to yield to temptation. human frailties foible applies to a harmless or endearing weakness or idiosyncrasy. an eccentric's charming foibles vice can be a general term for any imperfection or weakness, but it often suggests violation of a moral code or the giving of offense to the moral sensibilities of others. compulsive gambling was his vice

Examples of fault in a Sentence


Lack of courage is his worst fault. If the book has a fault, it's that it's too long. It's your own fault you missed that bus. Through no fault of his own, he won't be able to attend the meeting. She committed too many faults to win the match.


The truck driver was faulted for the accident. Many have faulted her for not acting sooner. I can't fault him for trying to protect his family.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But sometimes, department policies are also at fault. Mike Hendricks, kansascity, "In a tragic loop, firefighters continue to die from preventable mistakes," 13 July 2018 In addition, someone can only be found at fault by a unanimous decision of the three-person hearing panel reviewing the allegations. Morgan Watkins, The Courier-Journal, "Experts: University of Kentucky's sexual assault policy may be illegal," 11 July 2018 These four players weren't solely at fault for the goals, but a lot of the blame falls on them. Cincinnati.com, "Player ratings for FC Cincinnati's 3-3 draw against Toronto FC II," 28 June 2018 In theory, the A.I. would become more likely to conclude that a minority driver is at fault in a crash involving multiple drivers. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "Unmasking A.I.'s Bias Problem," 25 June 2018 Some interpreted his words as victim-blaming, that Dixon was somehow at fault for walking home by herself at night. Lucie Morris-marr, CNN, "Eurydice Dixon: Tributes and anger as Australia mourns murdered comedian," 15 June 2018 No Brightline train has been found at fault in any of the deadly encounters. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "Seventh fatality involving a Brightline train looks like a suicide, cops say," 4 June 2018 But there’s nothing constructive in what-aboutism, and holding Colangelo at fault betrays a misunderstanding of the power dynamics in play. David Murphy, Philly.com, "Markelle Fultz's summer-league decision with Sixers will show if he is listening to the right people | David Murphy," 29 May 2018 And, even more annoyingly, those breakouts can take up to six months after insertion to appear, so most women don’t even realize their IUD could be at fault. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "The Quarter-Life Skin Crisis: Why Women Are Suddenly Breaking Out in Their Mid-20s," 30 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Dating back to the campaign, Trump has frequently and loudly complained about the quality of his staff, eager to fault his aides for any mishaps rather than acknowledge any personal responsibility. Zeke Miller And Jonathan Lemire, miamiherald, "Top Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn resigns over trade dispute | Miami Herald," 6 Mar. 2018 The audit faulted the bank for the practice, noting that the bank’s economists had disregarded the advice of an independent review panel in 2013 that had explicitly cautioned against frequent changes to the report’s methodology. Josh Zumbrun, WSJ, "World Bank Competitiveness Rankings Weren’t Manipulated, Audit Shows," 12 July 2018 Most experts in the field faulted the blueprint for neglecting some of the most potentially effective options. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "Pfizer doesn't deserve any credit for 'rolling back' its price increases at Trump's demand. Here's why," 11 July 2018 In a roughly 40-page report, British regulators faulted Facebook for allowing Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan to build an app that collected data about Facebook users as well as their friends on behalf of Cambridge Analytica. Tony Romm And Elizabeth Dwoskin, chicagotribune.com, "Facebook is slapped with first fine for Cambridge Analytica scandal," 10 July 2018 Since Ezra is back in South America with his previously missing girlfriend, would anyone fault Aria for rekindling her romance with the silkiest locks in all of Rosewood? Eliza Thompson, Cosmopolitan, "10 Questions Pretty Little Liars Needs to Answer in the Last 10 Episodes," 31 Aug. 2016 Some chefs sneer, faulting its flavor and high price. Bill Daley, chicagotribune.com, "In praise of filet mignon: Maligned by chefs yet still beloved," 14 June 2018 Banister, though, didn't fault Odor too much for being aggressive. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "Rangers don't back Fister in 2-1 loss to Mariners," 28 May 2018 Faculty members have said the school is poorly managed and fault the university for not being more transparent about its budget. Jessica Lee, The Seattle Times, "Facing $42 million budget deficit, UW dental school dean resigns," 16 Apr. 2018

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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for fault


Middle English faute, falte, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *fallita, from feminine of fallitus, past participle of Latin fallere to deceive, disappoint


see fault entry 1


Anglo-French faute lack, failing, ultimately from Latin fallere to deceive, disappoint

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Statistics for fault

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fault

The first known use of fault was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for fault



English Language Learners Definition of fault

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a bad quality or part of someone's character : a weakness in character

: a problem or bad part that prevents something from being perfect : a flaw or defect

: responsibility for a problem, mistake, bad situation, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of fault (Entry 2 of 2)

: to criticize (something)

: to blame or criticize (someone)


\ˈfȯlt \

Kids Definition of fault

1 : a weakness in character : failing Forgetfulness is my worst fault.

2 : responsibility for something wrong Why should he take the blame when it wasn't his fault?

3 : flaw, imperfection She bought the jacket even though it had a fault.

4 : a crack in the earth's crust along which movement occurs

at fault

: responsible for something wrong



Legal Definition of fault 

1 : a usually intentional act forbidden by law also : a usually intentional omission to do something (as to exercise due care) required by law — see also negligence — compare no-fault, strict liability at liability

Note: Sometimes when fault is used in legal contexts it includes negligence, sometimes it is considered synonymous with negligence, and sometimes it is distinguished from negligence. Fault and negligence are the usual bases for liability in the law of torts.

2 : responsibility for an act or omission that causes damage or injury to another relative degrees of fault — see also comparative fault

at fault

: liable or responsible based on fault was not at fault

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Comments on fault

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