What does fail mean?

Definitions for fail

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word fail.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. fail, neglect(verb)

    fail to do something; leave something undone

    "She failed to notice that her child was no longer in his crib"; "The secretary failed to call the customer and the company lost the account"

  2. fail, go wrong, miscarry(verb)

    be unsuccessful

    "Where do today's public schools fail?"; "The attempt to rescue the hostages failed miserably"

  3. fail, betray(verb)

    disappoint, prove undependable to; abandon, forsake

    "His sense of smell failed him this time"; "His strength finally failed him"; "His children failed him in the crisis"

  4. fail, go bad, give way, die, give out, conk out, go, break, break down(verb)

    stop operating or functioning

    "The engine finally went"; "The car died on the road"; "The bus we travelled in broke down on the way to town"; "The coffee maker broke"; "The engine failed on the way to town"; "her eyesight went after the accident"

  5. fail(verb)

    be unable

    "I fail to understand your motives"

  6. fail(verb)

    judge unacceptable

    "The teacher failed six students"

  7. fail, flunk, bomb, flush it(verb)

    fail to get a passing grade

    "She studied hard but failed nevertheless"; "Did I fail the test?"

  8. fail(verb)

    fall short in what is expected

    "She failed in her obligations as a good daughter-in-law"; "We must not fail his obligation to the victims of the Holocaust"

  9. fail(verb)

    become bankrupt or insolvent; fail financially and close

    "The toy company went bankrupt after the competition hired cheap Mexican labor"; "A number of banks failed that year"

  10. fail, run out, give out(verb)

    prove insufficient

    "The water supply for the town failed after a long drought"

  11. fail(verb)

    get worse

    "Her health is declining"


  1. fail(Noun)

    a failure, especially of a financial transaction

  2. fail(Noun)

    a failing grade in an academic examination

  3. fail(Verb)

    To be unsuccessful.

    Throughout my life, I have always failed.

  4. fail(Verb)

    Not to achieve a particular stated goal. (Usage note: The direct object of this word is usually an infinitive.)

    The truck failed to start.

  5. fail(Verb)

    To neglect.

    The report fails to take into account all the mitigating factors.

  6. fail(Verb)

    To cease to operate correctly.

    After running five minutes, the engine failed.

  7. fail(Verb)

    To be wanting to, to be insufficient for, to disappoint, to desert.

  8. fail(Verb)

    To receive one or more non-passing grades in academic pursuits.

    I failed in English last year.

  9. fail(Verb)

    To give a student a non-passing grade in an academic endeavour.

    The professor failed me because I did not complete any of the course assignments.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Fail(verb)

    to be wanting; to fall short; to be or become deficient in any measure or degree up to total absence; to cease to be furnished in the usual or expected manner, or to be altogether cut off from supply; to be lacking; as, streams fail; crops fail

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  2. Fail(verb)

    to be affected with want; to come short; to lack; to be deficient or unprovided; -- used with of

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  3. Fail(verb)

    to fall away; to become diminished; to decline; to decay; to sink

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  4. Fail(verb)

    to deteriorate in respect to vigor, activity, resources, etc.; to become weaker; as, a sick man fails

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  5. Fail(verb)

    to perish; to die; -- used of a person

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  6. Fail(verb)

    to be found wanting with respect to an action or a duty to be performed, a result to be secured, etc.; to miss; not to fulfill expectation

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  7. Fail(verb)

    to come short of a result or object aimed at or desired ; to be baffled or frusrated

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  8. Fail(verb)

    to err in judgment; to be mistaken

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  9. Fail(verb)

    to become unable to meet one's engagements; especially, to be unable to pay one's debts or discharge one's business obligation; to become bankrupt or insolvent

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  10. Fail(verb)

    to be wanting to ; to be insufficient for; to disappoint; to desert

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  11. Fail(verb)

    to miss of attaining; to lose

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  12. Fail(verb)

    miscarriage; failure; deficiency; fault; -- mostly superseded by failure or failing, except in the phrase without fail

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

  13. Fail(verb)

    death; decease

    Etymology: [OF. faille, from failir. See Fail, v. i.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Fail

    fāl, n. a turf, sod.—n. Fail′-dike (Scot.), a turf-wall. [Perh. from Gael. fàl, a sod.]

  2. Fail

    fāl, v.i. to fall short or be wanting (with in): to fall away: to decay: to die: to prove deficient under trial, examination, pressure, &c.: to miss: to be disappointed or baffled: to be unable to pay one's debts.—v.t. to be wanting to: not to be sufficient for: to leave undone, omit: to disappoint or desert any one:—pr.p. fail′ing; pa.p. failed.—n. (Shak.) failure.—p.adj. Failed, decayed, worn out: bankrupt.—n. Fail′ing, a fault, weakness: a foible.—prep. in default of.—n. Fail′ure, a falling short, or cessation: omission: decay: bankruptcy.—Fail of, to come short of accomplishing any purpose; Without fail, infallibly. [O. Fr. faillir—L. fallĕre, to deceive; cf. Dut. feilen, Ger. fehlen, Ice. feila.]

Suggested Resources

  1. FAIL

    What does FAIL stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the FAIL acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'fail' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #3075

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'fail' in Written Corpus Frequency: #4125

  3. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'fail' in Verbs Frequency: #139

Anagrams for fail »

  1. alif, fila

  2. Alif

  3. Fila

How to pronounce fail?

  1. Alex
    US English

How to say fail in sign language?

  1. fail


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of fail in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of fail in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of fail in a Sentence

  1. Bertrand Piccard:

    Maybe it will fail. Andre and I are very clear with ourselves, that maybe we'll bail out.

  2. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier:

    If we fail with these efforts now, everyone in the region ... will pay a high price.

  3. William Lloyd:

    Nonsense and noise will oft prevail, when honour and affection fail.

  4. Emeasoba George:

    God does not show love to us only when we have done perfectly well. Rather, he (God) loves us, even when we make mistakes and fail. Now, that is a perfect example of a true love, which can melt the hardest heart, heal the wounds of the so called broken hearted and even calm down a furious heart. And permit me to tell you this. That's equally the kind of love that we all ought to portray and share among one another. Yes! you heard me right and this is a call to love everyone unconditionally and never conditionally. -Emeasoba George

  5. Patrick Soon-Shiong:

    Everybody is focusing on one little piece of the puzzle, but the tumor is too smart. It has too many fail safes. We need to attack the entire tumor system.

Images & Illustrations of fail

  1. failfailfailfailfail

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for fail

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • أخفقArabic
  • не успявам, не работя, провалям се, отказвам, не сполучвамBulgarian
  • fracassarCatalan, Valencian
  • propadnout, fungovat, selhávat, selhat, nechat, přestatCzech
  • svigte, forsømme, mislykkes, dumpe, fejle, undlade, slå fejlDanish
  • missglücken, ohne Erfolg bleiben, scheitern, nicht gelingen, keinen Erfolg haben, versagenGerman
  • fracasar, zozobrar, negar, pararse, fallarSpanish
  • nurjuma, seiskuma, edutuEstonian
  • تصورکردن, شکست خوردن, موفق نشدن, خراب شدنPersian
  • rikkoa, pysähtyä, vikautua, ei, epäonnistua, vikaantua, pysäyttää, vioittaa, mennä rikkiFinnish
  • tomber en panne, faillir, recaler, négliger, échouerFrench
  • meathIrish
  • fàilligScottish Gaelic
  • gagalIndonesian
  • ignorare, omettere, mancare l'obiettivo, fallire, tralasciare, bocciare, negligere, mancareItalian
  • 矢敗するJapanese
  • жол болбоо, иш ордунан чыкпай калууKyrgyz
  • desumLatin
  • paheke, takaMāori
  • falen, mankeren, negeren, mislukken, buizenDutch
  • mislykkes, feile, svikteNorwegian
  • reprovar, pifar, deixar de, falhar, fracassarPortuguese
  • a rata, a strica, a se stricaRomanian
  • выходить из строя, терпеть неудачу, провалиться, провалить, не справитьсяRussian
  • mankera, misslyckas, falleraSwedish

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"fail." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 6 Jul 2020. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/fail>.

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