\ 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 The onslaught of the Chinese Virus is not your fault! Madison Dibble, Washington Examiner, "'Money will soon be coming to you': Trump promises payments to those out of work over coronavirus," 18 Mar. 2020 Too often, news organizations are cautious to a fault, afraid of their own shadows, and worried about being labeled anti-Trump or biased. Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post, "We have entered the Trump Unbound era — and journalists need to step it up.," 23 Feb. 2020 Sachs explores the inner-workings of Frankie’s expansive family’s idiosyncrasies to a fault. Garrett Mitchell, Detroit Free Press, "‘Frankie’ revisits doomed heroine formula," 12 Dec. 2019 Tate’s struggles in Los Angeles obviously weren’t entirely his fault, but Gunnell is the future for a program that might need to move on from Tate’s thrilling, but not incredibly successful, tenure. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Kedon Slovis and USC defense lead 41-14 win over Arizona," 19 Oct. 2019 The solution to the Angels’ perennial problems is firing Eppler, who is clueless to a fault when evaluating pitchers. Los Angeles Times, "Letters: How fair is the Fair Pay to Play Act?," 4 Oct. 2019 Almost to a fault, the album sounds like a unified work, with little variety in the arrangements. Greg Kot, chicagotribune.com, "Wilco review: ‘Ode to Joy’ keeps turbulence under wraps," 4 Oct. 2019 The Pistons plight is the fault of Tom Gores and Stan Van Gundy. Jamie Samuelsen, Detroit Free Press, "Jamie Samuelsen blog: All Detroit sports teams are rebuilding, so who'll get it right?," 3 Mar. 2020 Needless to say, neither of these cases was the fault of Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as AMLO). The Economist, "Bello Mexico needs statecraft, yet its president offers theatre," 27 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb An inspector general report faulted the former director for keeping some of those memos at his home, and for arranging for the contents of one of the memos to be shared with a reporter after Comey was fired in 2017. Josh Dawsey, BostonGlobe.com, "Barr pushes back against Trump’s criticism of Justice Dept., says tweets ‘make it impossible for me to do my job’," 13 Feb. 2020 The Australian coroner’s report into his death faulted the clinic on Manus Island for not providing better care. Washington Post, "Australia created fake horoscopes to deter Sri Lankans from seeking asylum there," 18 Dec. 2019 The group’s report faulted Pennsylvania environmental officials and the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to impose penalties for the sewage pollution. Scott Dance, baltimoresun.com, "It’s not just Baltimore: Another city is sending much more sewage into the Chesapeake Bay, report says," 22 Aug. 2019 The report generally faulted the district for what auditors said were faulty financing practices, poor oversight of purchases and deficient management of bidding and contracts. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "State backtracks on claims against contractor in revised report on San Ysidro School District," 8 July 2019 The report faults Fairgrounds Management for issuing inaccurate and misleading financial reports and violating local bingo regulations, among other issues. Thy Vo, The Mercury News, "Grand Jury: Santa Clara County Fair still badly mismanaged," 6 July 2019 The nonprofit watchdog’s report, published in conjunction with brokerage firm CLSA, faults Japanese regulators for not doing enough to improve minority shareholders’ rights. Mike Bird, WSJ, "Japan’s Crusade for Corporate Overhaul Under Threat, Watchdog Says," 5 Dec. 2018 Changing culture The Fire Marshal’s report faulted the department for using tactics that might have been used on a residential fire, such as using small-diameter hoses to attack the blaze. John Tedesco, San Antonio Express-News, "State investigation contradicts fire chief’s early claims about fatal fire," 10 Feb. 2018 Seatbelts — The study faults Ohio for not requiring people in both the front and back seats to wear seatbelts. Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland, "Ohio’s road-safety laws rank among country’s worst in new survey," 23 Jan. 2020

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

22 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fault.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fault. Accessed 1 Apr. 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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