\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, dis (also diss) [slang], dispraise, knock, pan, reprehend, slag [chiefly British]

Antonyms: Noun

merit, virtue

Antonyms: Verb

extol (also extoll), laud, praise

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Police groups and conservative activists say the approach too readily finds fault with police instead of wrongdoers, tying the hands of officers rather than criminals. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, "Before Leaving, Sessions Limited Agreements to Fix Police Agencies," 9 Nov. 2018 Meanwhile, acai berry aficionados find fault with Costco’s version of the would-be health food — specifically, too much sugar. Benjamin Romano, Anchorage Daily News, "Costco: Polish dog’s demise probably won’t be postponed by polemics," 12 July 2018 It’s hard to imagine her finding fault in either of those areas. Francine Kiefer, The Christian Science Monitor, "For women senators, court nomination touches a very personal issue," 11 July 2018 Is this a frivolous lawsuit, or are these fellow Floridians factual in finding fault with fromage? Dan Sweeney, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Is this cheesy McDonald's lawsuit frivolous, or have we all been paying too much for our burgers?," 3 July 2018 The federal review comes on the heels of damning state and city reports finding fault with the city's childhood lead prevention program, once a model for the nation. Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore labels Milwaukee lead prevention efforts a 'hot mess'," 27 June 2018 The former California governor and action star's comment came after justices found procedural faults with challenges brought by Democratic voters in Wisconsin and Republicans in Maryland. Jessica Estepa, USA TODAY, "Arnold Schwarzenegger weighs in on partisan districts punt: 'It is a call to action'," 18 June 2018 The medical board also found fault with Gray for not performing an exam or taking down patients' medical history before offering these products, and for not registering them with the Food and Drug Administration. Soumya Karlamangla, latimes.com, "A California doctor is selling 13-second recordings of hissing sounds to patients. But the medical board isn't buying it," 25 May 2018 The result is a superhero movie so tightly made and brilliantly entertaining that even Deadpool himself would have trouble finding fault with it. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Deadpool 2 might be the most entertaining superhero movie of the year," 15 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The United States had faulted the country for the Sony hack as far back as late 2014. Colin Lecher, The Verge, "US charges North Korean man in Sony hack and WannaCry ransomware attack," 6 Sep. 2018 Tomato plants are floppy by nature, so don't fault your gardening skills if your stems won't stand upright. Doug Hall, Good Housekeeping, "The 4 Best Ways to Support Your Tomato Plants," 19 July 2018 Two years after the 2005 hurricane, Congress issued reports that faulted the White House Homeland Security Council — where Nielsen directed preparedness and response — for failing to take the lead in staying on top of the unfolding disaster. Washington Post, "‘Great job,’ says Trump: Nielsen back in good graces for now," 21 June 2018 The report, which faulted former FBI Director James Comey for his handling of the probe, also cited anti-Trump communications sent by three other unnamed FBI employees. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "FBI report: Anti-Trump texts 'cast a cloud' over email probe," 15 June 2018 All in all, the judges conclude that this lack of identity really faulted the concept and the execution of the dishes. Luis Miguel Echegaray, SI.com, "Talkin' Top Chef, Episode Eight: Let There be Restaurant Wars," 25 Jan. 2018 His father, a researcher in marine biology, is dead, and his mother, Sally (Draper), has inexplicably married a lunkhead, Ron (Nick Sandow), who faults her on her indulgent parenting. Tom Keogh, The Seattle Times, "‘Stella’s Last Weekend’: Dog brings only grace to ill-conceived family affair," 25 Oct. 2018 On Wednesday, an SEC commissioner called on the agency to move ahead with the study and faulted it for not doing more to ensure transparency and fairness in the stock market. Cezary Podkul, WSJ, "Judge Rules Class-Action Lawsuit Against TD Ameritrade Can Proceed," 21 Sep. 2018 Inspectors faulted it for not maintaining accurate records of medication provided to patients; for failing to provide care and services appropriate for a patient’s needs after hospitalization and for not keeping a drug cart locked. Linda Trischitta, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Caretaker accused of using duct tape to tie up 67-year-old woman," 13 July 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

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Statistics for fault

Last Updated

30 Nov 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

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fault

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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