fa·​tal | \ ˈfā-tᵊl How to pronounce fatal (audio) \

Definition of fatal

1a : causing death a fatal crash a fatal disease a fatal wound
b : bringing ruin a fatal attraction to gambling
c : causing failure a fatal design flaw Lack of sufficient support was fatal to his campaign.
2a : determining one's fate the fatal flaw in this dazzling woman: a total lack of taste— Marya Mannes
b : of or relating to fate … this science sets a fatal necessity on things …— H. O. Taylor
c : resembling fate in proceeding according to a fixed sequence
3 : fateful a fatal hour
4 obsolete : fated

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Choose the Right Synonym for fatal

deadly, mortal, fatal, lethal mean causing or capable of causing death. deadly applies to an established or very likely cause of death. a deadly disease mortal implies that death has occurred or is inevitable. a mortal wound fatal stresses the inevitability of what has in fact resulted in death or destruction. fatal consequences lethal applies to something that is bound to cause death or exists for the destruction of life. lethal gas

Examples of fatal in a Sentence

a disease that is often fatal a chemical that can be fatal to birds She made a fatal mistake.
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Recent Examples on the Web Neither of the couple’s two young children in the home at the time were injured during the fatal shooting, police said. Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2021 Martin Prieb, a second vice president under Graham, then attempted to have Angelo thrown out of the union for speaking to reporters during then-Officer Jason Van Dyke’s 2018 trial for McDonald’s fatal shooting. Sylvia Goodman, chicagotribune.com, 13 Oct. 2021 The first fatal shooting was reported just before 11:25 p.m., when officers found Jahnaya Bakare, 18, shot near homes in the 2100 block of Wheatgrass Way, south of West 79th Street. Lawrence Andrea, The Indianapolis Star, 13 Oct. 2021 Minneapolis was already on edge following the death of George Floyd more than a year earlier, and the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by an officer in nearby Brooklyn Center in April. Amy Forliti, USA TODAY, 13 Oct. 2021 Another agency had placed him in emergency detention weeks before the fatal shooting. Jacob Beltran, San Antonio Express-News, 12 Oct. 2021 On June 29, the council had voted to give the club 90 days to address safety concerns after a fatal shooting at the club on June 14. al, 12 Oct. 2021 Rittenhouse, 18, faces trial next month in the fatal shooting of two people and the wounding of another during protests in Kenosha in August 2020. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12 Oct. 2021 Cincinnati Police are investigating a fatal shooting in Evanston. Brook Endale, The Enquirer, 12 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fatal.' 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 fatal

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for fatal

Middle English, from Latin fatalis, from fatum fate

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Time Traveler for fatal

Time Traveler

The first known use of fatal was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near fatal

fat acid



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Statistics for fatal

Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fatal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fatal. Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for fatal



English Language Learners Definition of fatal

: causing death
: causing ruin or failure


fa·​tal | \ ˈfā-tᵊl How to pronounce fatal (audio) \

Kids Definition of fatal

1 : causing death : mortal fatal injuries
2 : causing ruin or failure a fatal mistake

Other Words from fatal

fatally adverb


fa·​tal | \ ˈfāt-ᵊl How to pronounce fatal (audio) \

Medical Definition of fatal

: causing death a fatal diabetic coma— Havelock Ellis

Other Words from fatal

fatally \ ˈfāt-​ᵊl-​ē How to pronounce fatal (audio) \ adverb

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Legal Definition of fatal

1 : causing failure of a legal claim or cause of action a fatal defect in the proceedings— W. R. LaFave and J. H. Israel
2 : making something (as a contract) invalid or unenforceable there is a fatal indefiniteness with the result that the agreement is void— J. D. Calamari and J. M. Perillo

Other Words from fatal

fatally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on fatal

Nglish: Translation of fatal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fatal for Arabic Speakers


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