\ 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

While Tiger Woods no longer is accused in a wrongful death lawsuit, a battle is intensifying over who’s at fault in the December death of a bartender from a Jupiter business with ties to the golf legend. Marc Freeman, sun-sentinel.com, "Tiger Woods’ girlfriend and restaurant slam claims in wrongful-death lawsuit," 9 July 2019 Glendale police determined the driver was not at fault. Jeff Rumage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "2-year-old boy hit by car at McDonald's in Glendale," 9 July 2019 The victim is convinced their grandchild has been in an at-fault car wreck (and sustained facial injuries, which is why their voice sounds different) and needs bond money paid in the form of gift cards or a wire transfer. cleveland.com, "Senior scams on the rise as new cons emerge: Here’s how to protect yourself," 30 June 2019 Or the company may be able to prove to federal authorities that the employees at fault had been trained in company policies but chose to go rogue. Jeanne Sahadi, CNN, "When your job is to teach corporations to do the right thing," 26 June 2019 No one in the Warriors organization considers any party at fault for Durant’s injury, given their collaboration. Mark Medina, The Mercury News, "Is this end of the Warriors’ dynasty? Steve Kerr says ‘no’," 15 June 2019 Jenkins, for instance, was sued at least four times from 2006 to 2009 while serving in plainclothes units, and found to be at fault in three of those cases. Justin Fenton, baltimoresun.com, "How can Baltimore Police prevent corruption after GTTF? For starters, some say, get rid of plainclothes units.," 13 June 2019 Quiat maintains that Reid misused the device and the company isn’t at fault. Ken Ritter, The Seattle Times, "Product lawyer points out Reid’s conflicting statements," 29 Mar. 2019 This goes beyond acknowledging that children are not at fault for their situation. Titus Techera, National Review, "A Teacher Confronts Reality," 26 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Biden may be faulted for indulging the resistance of white constituents. Steve Chapman, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris have reignited the busing debate. Here’s what happened at my Austin, Texas, high school.," 3 July 2019 Eason was also faulted for not writing an official report after receiving a tip in February 2016 that the shooting suspect, Nikolas Cruz, was making threats on social media to shoot up a school. Fox News, "Broward County Sheriff's Office loses accreditation after school massacre, Florida airport shooting: report," 2 July 2019 His response to the shooting has been faulted by both African Americans in South Bend, Ind. as well as the police department. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Harris challenging Biden on race and Castro blasting Beto on immigration: These are the top moments from the Democratic debates," 28 June 2019 Eason, who was assigned to the Parkland district, had also been faulted for not writing an official report after receiving a tip in February 2016 that the school shooter was making threats on social media to shoot up a school. Wayne K. Roustan, sun-sentinel.com, "Two more deputies fired as sheriff wraps up Parkland shooting investigation," 26 June 2019 Senior 5th Fleet commanders were also faulted and two were relieved of their commands. Megan Rose, ProPublica, "Trump Keeps Talking About the Last Military Standoff With Iran — Here’s What Really Happened," 24 June 2019 But many critics have faulted big tech companies for not acting more aggressively to curtail the spread of extremist content on their platforms. Pamela Falk, CBS News, "U.N. warns of global "groundswell" of hate speech," 18 June 2019 Cora faulted the offense for not scoring more runs and putting the Blue Jays away. Peter Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, "Blue Jays batter bullpen as Red Sox blow big lead," 23 June 2019 In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan faulted the court for overturning a long-standing precedent. David G. Savage, Anchorage Daily News, "Justices bolster property owners’ rights," 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

13 Jul 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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