What does failure mean?

Definitions for failure
ˈfeɪl yərfail·ure

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word failure.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. failurenoun

    an act that fails

    "his failure to pass the test"

  2. failurenoun

    an event that does not accomplish its intended purpose

    "the surprise party was a complete failure"

  3. failurenoun

    lack of success

    "he felt that his entire life had been a failure"; "that year there was a crop failure"

  4. failure, loser, nonstarter, unsuccessful personnoun

    a person with a record of failing; someone who loses consistently

  5. failurenoun

    an unexpected omission

    "he resented my failure to return his call"; "the mechanic's failure to check the brakes"

  6. bankruptcy, failurenoun

    inability to discharge all your debts as they come due

    "the company had to declare bankruptcy"; "fraudulent loans led to the failure of many banks"

  7. failurenoun

    loss of ability to function normally

    "kidney failure"


  1. failurenoun

    State or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, opposite of success.

  2. failurenoun

    An object, person or endeavour in a state of failure or incapable of success.

  3. failurenoun

    Termination of the ability of an item to perform its required function, breakdown.

  4. Etymology: From failer, from faillir.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Failurenoun

    Etymology: from fail.

    There must have been an universal failure and want of springs and rivers all the Summer season. John Woodward, N. Hist.

    He that, being subject to an apoplexy, used still to carry his remedy about him; but upon a time shifting his cloaths, and not taking that with him, chanced upon that very day to be surprised with a fit: he owed his death to a mere accident, to a little inadvertency and failure of memory. Robert South, Sermons.


  1. Failure

    Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success. The criteria for failure depends on context, and may be relative to a particular observer or belief system. One person might consider a failure what another person considers a success, particularly in cases of direct competition or a zero-sum game. Similarly, the degree of success or failure in a situation may be differently viewed by distinct observers or participants, such that a situation that one considers to be a failure, another might consider to be a success, a qualified success or a neutral situation. It may also be difficult or impossible to ascertain whether a situation meets criteria for failure or success due to ambiguous or ill-defined definition of those criteria. Finding useful and effective criteria, or heuristics, to judge the success or failure of a situation may itself be a significant task.


  1. failure

    Failure is a condition or state in which an entity, individual, system, or action does not meet a set standard, expectation, goal or requirement. It can also refer to the cessation of a process or functioning. This could be due to lack of success, a breakdown, or an unsuccessful attempt to achieve a particular outcome. It is typically seen as undesirable, but can often serve as an opportunity for learning and growth.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Failurenoun

    cessation of supply, or total defect; a failing; deficiency; as, failure of rain; failure of crops

  2. Failurenoun

    omission; nonperformance; as, the failure to keep a promise

  3. Failurenoun

    want of success; the state of having failed

  4. Failurenoun

    decay, or defect from decay; deterioration; as, the failure of memory or of sight

  5. Failurenoun

    a becoming insolvent; bankruptcy; suspension of payment; as, failure in business

  6. Failurenoun

    a failing; a slight fault

  7. Etymology: [From Fail.]


  1. Failure

    Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success. Product failure ranges from failure to sell the product to fracture of the product, in the worst cases leading to personal injury, the province of forensic engineering.

The Roycroft Dictionary

  1. failure

    1. The man who can tell others what to do and how to do it, but never does it himself. 2. A man who has blundered, but is not able to cash in the experience.

The Foolish Dictionary, by Gideon Wurdz


    The quickest method known for making money.

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. failure

    An unsuccessful attempt; as, the failure of an expedition.

Suggested Resources

  1. failure

    Song lyrics by failure -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by failure on the Lyrics.com website.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'failure' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #1291

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'failure' in Written Corpus Frequency: #3201

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'failure' in Nouns Frequency: #536

How to pronounce failure?

How to say failure in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of failure in Chaldean Numerology is: 8

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of failure in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of failure in a Sentence

  1. Ari Wilkenfeld:

    We are hopeful that Congress and the OSC will investigate this case in a timely and comprehensive manner, this matter concerns HHS's response to the coronavirus, and its failure to protect its employees and potentially the public. The retaliatory efforts to intimidate and silence our client must be opposed.

  2. John Dewey:

    Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.

  3. Gerald N. Weiskott:

    The greatest failure is a person who never admits that he can be a failure.

  4. Ray Attrill:

    If there appears to be a genuine intent on both sides to use this summit as a platform for a serious negotiation of a peace treaty, I guess that's what success would look like today, nobody is expecting a peace treaty today, that is being overly optimistic. But if this turns out to be a complete failure there might be some implications for risk assets.

  5. Miguel Lara:

    One can infer from the delays and the results of the failure that it was a problem in the lines that leave Guri, rather than in the plant itself.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for failure

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"failure." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 21 Jul 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/failure>.

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    the act of making a noisy disturbance
    A cleave
    B efface
    C scarper
    D rumpus

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