- To fail is defined as to be unsuccessful at something, to not do something you should, or to tell someone they were unsuccessful at something.
- When you get only 1 question correct out of 100 on the test, this is an example of a time when you fail.
- When you were supposed to take the garbage out and did not, this is an example of a time when you fail to take out the garbage.
- When you are a teacher and you give a student a 20% on a test out of 100, this is an example of a time when you fail the student.
A failed test.
- to be lacking or insufficient; fall short: the water supply is failing
- to lose power or strength; weaken; die away
- to stop operating or working: the brakes failed
- to be deficient or negligent in an obligation, duty, or expectation; default
- to be unsuccessful in obtaining a desired end; be unable to do or become; miss
- to become bankrupt
- Educ. to get a grade of failure; not pass
Origin of failMiddle English failen ; from Old French faillir, to fail, miss ; from Classical Latin fallere, to deceive, disappoint ; from Indo-European base an unverified form ĝhwel-, to bend, deviate from source Sanskrit hválati, (he) loses the way, errs, Classical Greek phēloein, to deceive
- to be useless or not helpful to; be inadequate for; disappoint
- to leave; abandon: his courage failed him
- to miss, neglect, or omit: used with an infinitive: he failed to go
- to give a grade of failure to (a pupil)
- to get a grade of failure in (a subject)
Origin of failME faile < OFr faile < the v.
verbfailed, fail·ing, fails
- To prove deficient or lacking; perform ineffectively or inadequately: failed to fulfill their promises; failed in their attempt to reach the summit.
- a. To be unsuccessful: an experiment that failed.b. To be unsuccessful in being acted upon: an idea that failed to be accepted by the board.
- To receive an academic grade below the acceptable minimum.
- To prove insufficient in quantity or duration; give out: The water supply failed during the drought.
- To decline, as in strength or effectiveness: The light began to fail.
- To cease functioning properly: The engine failed.
- To give way or be made otherwise useless as a result of excessive strain: The rusted girders failed and caused the bridge to collapse.
- To become bankrupt or insolvent: Their business failed during the last recession.
- To disappoint or prove undependable to: Our sentries failed us.
- To abandon; forsake: His strength failed him.
- To omit to perform (an expected duty, for example): We must not fail our obligation to the earthquake victims.
- To leave undone; neglect: failed to wash the dishes.
- a. To receive an academic grade below the acceptable minimum in (a course, for example): failed algebra twice.b. To give such a grade of failure to (a student): failed me in algebra.
- To be detected by (a drug test) as having used a banned substance.
Origin of failMiddle English failen, from Old French faillir, from Vulgar Latin *fallīre, variant of Latin fallere, to deceive.
(third-person singular simple present fails, present participle failing, simple past and past participle failed)
- (intransitive) To be unsuccessful.
- Throughout my life, I have always failed.
- Not to achieve a particular stated goal. (Usage note: The direct object of this word is usually an infinitive.)
- The truck failed to start.
- To neglect.
- The report fails to take into account all the mitigating factors.
- (intransitive, of a machine, etc.) To cease to operate correctly.
- After running five minutes, the engine failed.
- To be wanting to, to be insufficient for, to disappoint, to desert.
- (intransitive) To receive one or more non-passing grades in academic pursuits.
- I failed in English last year.
- 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.
- To be wanting; to fall short; to be or become deficient in any measure or degree up to total absence.
- The crops failed last year.
- (archaic) To be affected with want; to come short; to lack; to be deficient or unprovided; used with of.
- (archaic) To fall away; to become diminished; to decline; to decay; to sink.
- (archaic) To deteriorate in respect to vigour, activity, resources, etc.; to become weaker.
- A sick man fails.
- 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.
- This is a catenative verb which takes the to infinitive.
- (to be unsuccessful): succeed
(comparative more fail, superlative most fail)
- (slang, US) That is a failure.
From Middle English failen, from Anglo-Norman faillir, from Vulgar Latin *fallire, alteration of Latin fallere (“to deceive, disappoint”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰāl- (“to lie, deceive”). Compare Dutch feilen, falen (“to fail, miss”), German fehlen (“to fail, miss, lack”), Danish feile (“to fail, err”), Swedish fela (“to fail, be wanting, do wrong”), Icelandic feila (“to fail”).
fail - Legal Definition