\ ˈfȯlt How to pronounce fault (audio) , in poetry also ˈfȯt \

Definition of fault

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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.
2 : responsibility for wrongdoing or failure the accident was the driver's fault
3a : mistake The misplacement of "only" is one of the most common writing faults.
b : misdemeanor a small boy's faults
4 : 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.
5 obsolete : lack
at fault
1 : open to blame : responsible you were really at fault
2 : unable to find the scent and continue chase
to a fault
: to an excessive degree precise to a fault


faulted; faulting; faults

Definition of fault (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to find a fault in easy to praise this book and to fault it— H. G. Roepke
2 : blame, censure can't fault them for not coming
3 : to produce a geologic fault in

intransitive verb

1 : to commit a fault : err
2 : to fracture so as to produce a geologic fault

Illustration of fault

Illustration of fault


fault 4: 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

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

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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

Noun 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. Verb 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 that is exactly what most foreign governments do, to a fault. The Economist, "Chaguan Communism is not what worries the world about China’s Communist Party," 18 Dec. 2019 Malzahn isn’t putting Carlson at fault for that one, though. Giana Han, al, "Anders Carlson’s field goal struggles continue," 24 Nov. 2019 Juan’s loyal-to-a-fault servant Sganarelle is on hand to comment on his master’s evil doings. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Review: ’Don Juan’ a cool, cruel comedy at Westport Playhouse," 12 Nov. 2019 Even if an investigation finds Pakistan Railways is at fault for the deadly fire, many Pakistanis doubt Mr. Ahmed will be held accountable. New York Times, "Pakistani Train Inferno Was Decades in the Making," 1 Nov. 2019 The same happened to start the second period, although the Coyotes weren't entirely at fault for the goal that put them in an 0-2 hole. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Arizona Coyotes sloppy in homecoming loss to Montreal Canadiens," 30 Oct. 2019 Winkleman argues that Royal Caribbean is at fault for having left the window open. Josiah Bates, Time, "Grandfather Charged With 'Negligent Homicide' Over Toddler's Cruise Ship Death," 29 Oct. 2019 The trading suggested continued worries on Wall Street over whether the utility’s equipment might be found at fault for sparking fires during dry, windy weather. SFChronicle.com, "PG&E shares plunge amid wildfire worries," 24 Oct. 2019 He was found at fault for speeding, which was called into question by new information 60 years later from an officer who was on the scene. Los Angeles Times, "All 59 people name-dropped in Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’: Where are they now?," 26 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Covering 80 years in the life and work of one of the key figures of the American feminist movement, whose influence has stretched across generations, Julie Taymor's nontraditional biopic The Glorias certainly can't be faulted for lack of ambition. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Glorias': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020 Nor can the production, including that alarming lighting by Jen Schriever, be faulted; Silverman seems to have staged the play exactly as Wohl intended, stopping shy only of a laugh track to get the audience coughing up yuks. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Grand Horizons,’ Marriage Is a Long-Running Farce," 23 Jan. 2020 Given these numbers, candidates can hardly be faulted for not talking about it more. Jessica T. Mathews, The New York Review of Books, "Do the Democrats Have a Foreign Policy?," 16 Jan. 2020 In light of the show’s racially conscious casting, one cannot be faulted for wondering whether any of Jim Henson’s Muppet creations, more specifically the human-ish Ernie and Bert, have racial identities. Bryan Greene, Smithsonian, "The Unmistakable Black Roots of ‘Sesame Street’," 7 Nov. 2019 Jones’ benching came a week after he was faulted for not helping break up one of three interceptions thrown by Josh Allen in a 16-10 loss to New England. San Diego Union-Tribune, "AP Source: Bills trade receiver Zay Jones to Raiders," 7 Oct. 2019 At the same time the country’s Credit Reference Bureau has been faulted for occasionally basing its reports on incomplete data. Victor Odundo Owuor, Quartz Africa, "Mobile-based lending is a double-edged sword in Kenya—helping but also spiking personal debt," 5 Oct. 2019 Local jails across the country have long been faulted for providing substandard medical care. Connor Sheets | Csheets@al.com, al, "Alabama sheriffs release sick, dying inmates from jail to avoid paying their hospital bills," 30 Sep. 2019 Local jails across the country have long been faulted for providing substandard medical care. Connor Sheets, ProPublica, "These Sheriffs Release Sick Inmates to Avoid Paying Their Hospital Bills," 30 Sep. 2019

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 5


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

History and Etymology for fault

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for fault

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for fault

Last Updated

9 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fault.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fault. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for fault


How to pronounce fault (audio)

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 How to pronounce fault (audio) \

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

History and Etymology for fault

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on fault

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fault

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fault

Spanish Central: Translation of fault

Nglish: Translation of fault for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fault for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fault

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