Definitions for fail-safe

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word fail-safe

Random House Webster's College Dictionary


  1. equipped with a secondary system that ensures continued operation even if the primary system fails.

    Category: Electronics

  2. denoting a system of safeguards in which bombers may not proceed past a prearranged point or nuclear weapons may not be armed without direct orders.

    Category: Military

  3. guaranteed to work; totally reliable.

    Category: Common Vocabulary

  4. (n.)a fail-safe mechanism, system, or the like.

    Category: Common Vocabulary

Origin of fail-safe:


Princeton's WordNet

  1. fail-safe(adj)

    a mechanism capable of returning to a safe state in case there is a failure or malfunction

  2. fail-safe(adj)

    guaranteed not to fail

    "a fail-safe recipe for cheese souffle"

  3. fail-safe(adj)

    eliminating danger by compensating automatically for a failure or malfunction

    "a fail-safe device in a nuclear weapon to deactivate it automatically in the event of accident"


  1. fail-safe(Noun)

    A fail-safe device or mechanism.

  2. fail-safe(Verb)

    To compensate automatically, in the event of a failure.

  3. fail-safe(Adjective)

    That doesn't cause undue damage, in the event of failure.

    The system is failsafe, because everything is backed up automatically.


  1. Fail-safe

    A fail-safe or fail-secure device is one that, in the event of failure, responds in a way that will cause no harm, or at least a minimum of harm, to other devices or danger to personnel. "Fail-safe[ty]" should not be confused with "fail-secur[ity]." A fail-secure component of a system secures that system in the event of a failure either of that component or elsewhere in the system. For example, during a failure of an ingress-egress control system, e.g., a user propping a door open somewhere in a building, a fail-secure lock will close, lock, and remain locked even when a user attempts to unlock it with the key that the user usually employs. In such a case, an independent release, such as a reboot or disarming of the securing mechanism, is required. In contrast, a component may be considered fail-safe even if its failure does not secure the system. For example, if a door locked from the inside is left unlocked or is unlocked at the wrong time, it has failed, the door may be fail-safe if its being unlocked does not open it or attract additional attention to its unlocked state.


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