\ ˈfȯlt How to pronounce fault (audio) , 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

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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

Brian Lewerke tried too much to be a pocket passer in the first half of 2018, and his accuracy decreased and interceptions went up — though not all of it was his fault. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "MSU football mailbag: What to expect from offense? Dantonio on hot seat?," 30 Aug. 2019 The president has repeatedly argued that the Fed's failure to cut U.S. rates more quickly is making the dollar too strong against other currencies and thus hurting American exporters — an argument most economists find fault with. CBS News, "Ex-Fed official says central bank should stop enabling Trump," 28 Aug. 2019 Smoked sea scallops with faro and Vidalia onion sauce ($24) was exquisite, and our dining companion couldn’t find fault with his steak. Pamela Wright, BostonGlobe.com, "When in Connecticut, head for the Hills," 28 Aug. 2019 The administration seems almost certain to end up finding fault with the French. The Economist, "France is giving unilateralism a go," 22 Aug. 2019 Ninja also used his own tweeted message to apologize for a situation that doesn't seem to be his fault. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Twitch backtracks after accidentally showing porn on Ninja’s old page," 12 Aug. 2019 The agency found fault at both hospitals following the death of patients getting bad blood transfusions. Todd Ackerman, Houston Chronicle, "Ben Taub dead patient was unmonitored, found passed out in bathroom," 24 July 2019 Referee Malik Badawi ruled Emslie was at fault and whistled her for the foul and giving Utah a goal kick. Luis Torres, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride fall 2-0 to Utah Royals FC despite Alex Morgan’s return," 18 Aug. 2019 But Carlisle began to wonder whether only his own field was at fault. David Adam, Scientific American, "How a Data Detective Exposed Suspicious Medical Trials," 6 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Some researchers, for example, fault the Nobel for denying a prize to Hawking, whose research on black hole thermodynamics in the 1970s is widely considered to be a correct description of nature. Philip Ball, Scientific American, "Supergravity Snags Super Award: $3-Million Special Breakthrough Prize," 6 Aug. 2019 Most glaringly, Riske double-faulted five times in the final set, at least somewhat a result of trying to do too much against William's superb returns. baltimoresun.com, "Chasing eighth Wimbledon title, Serena Williams beats Alison Riske to reach semis," 9 July 2019 His client, Ponciano, doesn’t fault her former colleagues for taking the cash from Getaround. Ellen Huet, latimes.com, "Latest Dynamex twist: Cash this check for $250, and sign away your right to sue," 6 July 2019 Professor Fiss faults me for committing the individualist heresy of focusing on individual rather than collective effects of affirmative action. Noah Feldman, The New York Review of Books, "Arguing Affirmative Action," 7 Feb. 2019 Shearer faulted the strict deadline for getting mail ballots back to elections offices: 7 p.m. on Election Day, unlike some other states that use the date ballots are postmarked. Anthony Man, sun-sentinel.com, "Florida voting rights hearing: ‘It always takes a fight just to vote in this state’," 23 July 2019 Pryor faulted Dorsey for not listening enough to his constituents and for failing to address their concerns about crime. Ian Duncan, baltimoresun.com, "Rain Pryor, daughter of comedian Richard Pryor, files to run for Baltimore City Council," 18 July 2019 In its 2018 audit of JCPS, the Kentucky Department of Education faulted the district for ignoring longstanding needs and failing to increase its bonding capacity. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "JCPS wants to build new schools. But it may need more tax dollars, Marty Pollio says," 16 July 2019 The American Iranian Council, a public policy group that focuses on diplomacy surrounding Iran, released a similar statement this week, faulting both the U.S. and Iran for stoking tensions. Daniel Arkin, NBC News, "Iranian Americans express fear, call for caution amid mounting U.S. tensions," 22 June 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 1


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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Statistics for fault

Last Updated

7 Sep 2019

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 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

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

Comments on fault

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