American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- v. To prove deficient or lacking; perform ineffectively or inadequately: failed to fulfill their promises; failed in their attempt to reach the summit.
- v. To be unsuccessful: an experiment that failed.
- v. To receive an academic grade below the acceptable minimum.
- v. To prove insufficient in quantity or duration; give out: The water supply failed during the drought.
- v. To decline, as in strength or effectiveness: The light began to fail.
- v. To cease functioning properly: The engine failed.
- v. To give way or be made otherwise useless as a result of excessive strain: The rusted girders failed and caused the bridge to collapse.
- v. To become bankrupt or insolvent: Their business failed during the last recession.
- v. To disappoint or prove undependable to: Our sentries failed us.
- v. To abandon; forsake: His strength failed him.
- v. To omit to perform (an expected duty, for example): "We must . . . hold . . . those horrors up to the light of justice. Otherwise we would fail our inescapable obligation to the victims of Nazism: to remember” ( Anthony Lewis).
- v. To leave undone; neglect: failed to wash the dishes.
- v. To receive an academic grade below the acceptable minimum in (a course, for example): failed algebra twice.
- v. To give such a grade of failure to (a student): failed me in algebra.
- n. Failure to deliver securities to a purchaser within a specified time.
- n. Failure to receive the proceeds of a transaction, as in the sale of stock or securities, by a specified date.
- idiom. without fail With no chance of failure: Be here at noon without fail.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- To be or become deficient or lacking, as something expected or desired; fall short, cease, disappear, or be wanting, either wholly or partially; be insufficient or absent: as, the stream fails in summer; our supplies failed.
- To decline; sink; grow faint; become weaker.
- To come short or be wanting in action, detail, or result; disappoint or prove lacking in what is attempted, expected, desired, or approved: often followed by an infinitive or by of or in: as, he failed to come; the experiment failed of success; he fails in duty; the portrait fails in expression.
- To become unable to meet one's engagements, especially one's debts or business obligations; become insolvent or bankrupt.
- =Syn, 1. To fall short, come short, give out.
- To wane, fade, weaken.
- To come to naught, prove abortive.
- To break, suspend payment.
- To be wanting to; disappoint; desert; leave in the lurch.
- To omit; leave unbestowed or unperformed; neglect to keep or observe: as, to fail an appointment.
- To come short of; miss; lack.
- To deceive; delude; mislead.
- n. Lack; absence or cessation.
- n. Failure; deficiency: now only in the phrase without fail (which see, below).
- n. A failure, failing, or fault.
- n. A piece cut off from the rest of the sward; a turf; a sod.
- n. A woman's upper garment. Halliwell. See faille.
- v. intransitive To be unsuccessful.
- v. transitive Not to achieve a particular stated goal. (Usage note: The direct object of this word is usually an infinitive.)
- v. transitive To neglect.
- v. intransitive, of a machine, etc. To cease to operate correctly.
- v. transitive To be wanting to, to be insufficient for, to disappoint, to desert.
- v. intransitive To receive one or more non-passing grades in academic pursuits.
- v. transitive To give a student a non-passing grade in an academic endeavour.
- n. slang A failure (condition of being unsuccessful)
- n. slang, US A failure (something incapable of success)
- n. A failure, especially of a financial transaction (a termination of an action).
- n. A failing grade in an academic examination.
- adj. slang, US That is a failure.
GNU Webster's 1913
- v. 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
- v. To be affected with want; to come short; to lack; to be deficient or unprovided; -- used with
- v. To fall away; to become diminished; to decline; to decay; to sink.
- v. To deteriorate in respect to vigor, activity, resources, etc.; to become weaker.
- v. obsolete To perish; to die; -- used of a person.
- v. 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.
- v. To come short of a result or object aimed at or desired ; to be baffled or frusrated.
- v. To err in judgment; to be mistaken.
- v. 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.
- v. To be wanting to ; to be insufficient for; to disappoint; to desert.
- v. rare To miss of attaining; to lose.
- n. Miscarriage; failure; deficiency; fault; -- mostly superseded by
failureor failing, except in the phrase without fail.
- n. obsolete Death; decease.
- v. disappoint, prove undependable to; abandon, forsake
- v. be unsuccessful
- v. stop operating or functioning
- v. become bankrupt or insolvent; fail financially and close
- v. fail to do something; leave something undone
- v. fall short in what is expected
- v. prove insufficient
- v. judge unacceptable
- v. get worse
- v. be unable
- v. fail to get a passing grade
- From Middle English, from Old French faillir, from Latin fallere ("to deceive, disappoint"). (Wiktionary)
- Middle English failen, from Old French faillir, from Vulgar Latin *fallīre, variant of Latin fallere, to deceive. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“You can't fail,' she said, '_I won't let you fail_!”
“[Illustration: "And he," she said, "has still a chance if -- I fail you?"] "Of course -- if you _fail_ me.”
“We shall not fail -- if we stand firm, we _shall not fail_.”
“Moreover, see whether the term fail to be used in the same relation both when called by the name of its genus, and also when called by those of all the genera of its genus.”
“Q: You say that one way to fail is to quit taking risks.”
“Q: You often warn that one way to fail is to love your bureaucracy.”
“Notice, once again, how the instinct of the Republic party types who want Obama to fail is to make ‘gotcha’ points that might sound clever but are actually completely wrongheaded.”
“Should I draw the moral that sometimes to fail is to succeed?”
““King of Rome,” put an end to the fond hopes of the Italians, who had been taught by Napoleon to expect that, after his death, their country should possess a government separate from France; nor could the same title fail to excite some bitter feelings in the Austrian court, whose heir-apparent under the old empire had been styled commonly “The King of the Romans.””
“Marc Ventresca, a lecturer in strategy and innovation at Oxford University's Saïd Business School , and an expert in what he calls the "fail early, fail often" world of Silicon Valley tech start-ups.”
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