fail
Pronunciation Verb

fail (fails, present participle failing; past and past participle failed)

  1. (intransitive) To be unsuccessful.
    Throughout my life, I have always failed.
    • 1577, Raphaell Holinshed, “[The Historie of Englande.]”, in The Firste Volume of the Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande […], volume I, London: Imprinted [by Henry Bynneman] for Iohn Harrison, OCLC 55195564 ↗, page 249 ↗, column 1:
      If they ſhoulde gyue battayle it was to be doubted, leaſt through treaſon amõgſt themſelues, the armie ſhould be betrayed into the enimies hands, the which would not fayle to execute all kinde of crueltie in the ſlaughter of the whole nation.
  2. (transitive) Not to achieve a particular stated goal. (Usage note: The direct object of this word is usually an infinitive.)
    The truck failed to start.
  3. (transitive) To neglect.
    The report fails to take into account all the mitigating factors.
  4. (intransitive) Of a machine#Noun|machine, etc.: to cease to operate correctly.
    After running five minutes, the engine failed.
  5. (transitive) To be wanting to, to be insufficient for, to disappoint, to desert.
    • Bible, 1 Kings ii. 4
      There shall not fail thee a man on the throne.
    • 1843, Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, book 3, ch. II, Gospel of Mammonism
      A poor Irish Widow […] went forth with her three children, bare of all resource, to solicit help from the Charitable Establishments of that City. At this Charitable Establishment and then at that she was refused; referred from one to the other, helped by none; — till she had exhausted them all; till her strength and heart failed her: she sank down in typhus-fever […]
  6. (ambitransitive) To receive one or more non-passing grades in academic pursuits.
    I failed English last year.
  7. (transitive) 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.
  8. (transitive, obsolete) To miss attaining; to lose.
    • 1671, John Milton, “Book the Fourth”, in Paradise Regain’d. A Poem. In IV Books. To which is Added, Samson Agonistes, London: Printed by J. M[acock] for John Starkey […], OCLC 228732398 ↗:
      though that seat of earthly bliss be failed
  9. 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.
    • Bible, Job xiv. 11
      as the waters fail from the sea
    • 1591, William Shakespeare, “The Second Part of Henry the Sixt, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act II, scene ii]:
      Till Lionel's issue fails, his should not reign.
  10. (archaic) To be affected with want; to come short; to lack; to be deficient or unprovided; used with of.
    • If ever they fail of beauty, this failure is not to be attributed to their size.
  11. (archaic) To fall away; to become diminished; to decline; to decay; to sink.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 8”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗:
      When earnestly they seek / Such proof, conclude they then begin to fail.
  12. (archaic) To deteriorate in respect to vigour, activity, resources, etc.; to become weaker.
    A sick man fails.
  13. (obsolete) To perish; to die; used of a person.
    • 1613, William Shakespeare; [John Fletcher], “The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act I, scene ii]:
      had the king in his last sickness failed
  14. (obsolete) To err in judgment; to be mistaken.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 1”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗:
      Which ofttimes may succeed, so as perhaps / Shall grieve him, if I fail not.
  15. 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.
Synonyms
  • (to be unsuccessful) fall on one's face
  • (to receive non-passing grades in academic pursuits) flunk (US)
Antonyms Related terms Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations Noun

fail

  1. (uncountable, slang) Poor quality; substandard workmanship.
    The project was full of fail.
  2. (slang) A failure condition of being unsuccessful
  3. (slang, US) A failure something incapable of success
  4. A failure, especially of a financial transaction a termination of an action.
  5. A failing grade in an academic examination.
Adjective

fail

  1. (slang, US) That is a failure.
Noun

fail (plural fails)

  1. A piece of turf cut from grassland.

Fail
Proper noun
  1. Surname



This text is extracted from the Wiktionary and it is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license | Terms and conditions | Privacy policy 0.009
Offline English dictionary