\ 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

The fault lies in the service offerings made available by the adviser’s firm. Peter Dunn, USA TODAY, "Pete the Planner: Has your financial adviser failed you? 3 ways to let them know it," 13 July 2018 Despite her admittance of fault, many, including Selma director Ava DuVernay find her compliance with the heinous crime too egregious to forgive. Jasmine Hardy, Essence.com, "New Intel Prompts U.S. Government To Reopen Emmett Till Investigation," 12 July 2018 Whatever its faults, the outgoing government of President Enrique Peña Nieto has played a leading role in two regional initiatives. The Economist, "What AMLO portends for Latin America," 5 July 2018 Of that count, only in one death and one traumatic brain injury (that came with a severed arm) were the cyclists unquestionably at fault, both pushing Tour de France speeds on descents with oncoming traffic. Marc Peruzzi, Outside Online, "The Troubling Rise of the Ghost Bike," 9 July 2018 These difficult choices are not the fault of the board, or of the current government in power. Washington Post, "Puerto Rico faces austerity measures amid budget wrangling," 29 June 2018 Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Again Blames His Own Inhumane Immigration Policy on Democrats," 5 June 2018 The accidents have mostly been minor and not the fault of GM’s car. Fortune, "Who’s Winning the Self-Driving Car Race?," 31 May 2018 The fault lies in the service offerings made available by the adviser’s firm. Peter Dunn, USA TODAY, "Pete the Planner: Has your financial adviser failed you? 3 ways to let them know it," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Read more: Some social media users, especially people of color, took offense to the 60-second ad and faulted Fiat Chrysler's Ram division for using King's speech to sell vehicles. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, "Ram Trucks ad during Super Bowl using Martin Luther King Jr. audio sparks social media scorn," 4 Feb. 2018 It’s all white people fault, everything is someone else’s fault. Michael Harriot, The Root, "The Root’s Clapback Mailbag: The Longest Clapback Ever," 22 June 2018 Hitting the reset button in an effort to move forward seems to be fashion’s hottest trend right now — one that’s hard to fault. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "Hugging Is the Coolest Thing You Can Do Right Now," 21 June 2018 Democrats also plan to fault Scott over his wealth and his record while governor, including his initial push for deep budget cuts to education and his back-and-forth position on whether to expand Medicaid. Gary Fineout, chicagotribune.com, "Florida Gov. Rick Scott aims to unseat Democratic senator," 9 Apr. 2018 But, a lot of people aren’t going to fault you for not knowing those spots. Michael Nagrant, RedEye Chicago, "Want to be a Chicago dining expert? You must visit these 12 restaurants," 1 Mar. 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

7 Sep 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

What made you want to look up fault? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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