from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A character weakness, especially a minor one.
  • noun Something that impairs or detracts from physical perfection; a defect. synonym: blemish.
  • noun A mistake; an error.
  • noun A minor offense or misdeed.
  • noun Responsibility for a mistake or an offense; culpability. synonym: blame.
  • noun Geology A fracture in the continuity of a rock formation caused by a shifting or dislodging of the earth's crust, in which adjacent surfaces are displaced relative to one another and parallel to the plane of fracture.
  • noun Electronics A defect in a circuit or wiring caused by imperfect connections, poor insulation, grounding, or shorting.
  • noun Sports A service of the ball that violates the rules in tennis and similar games.
  • noun Archaic A lack or deficiency.
  • intransitive verb To find error or defect in; criticize or blame.
  • intransitive verb Geology To produce a fault in; fracture.
  • intransitive verb To commit a mistake or an error.
  • intransitive verb Geology To shift so as to produce a fault.
  • intransitive verb Sports To commit a fault, as in tennis.
  • idiom (at fault) Deserving of blame; guilty.
  • idiom (at fault) Confused and puzzled.
  • idiom (find fault) To seek, find, and complain about faults; criticize.
  • idiom (to a fault) To an excessive degree.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To lack.
  • To charge with a fault; find fault with; reproach.
  • In geology, to cause a fault in.
  • To scent or see; find out; discover.
  • To be in fault; be wrong; fail.
  • noun Defect; lack; want; failure. See default.
  • noun A lack; a defect; an imperfection; a failing, blemish, or flaw; any lack or impairment of excellence: applied to things.
  • noun An error or defect of judgment or conduct; any deviation from prudence, rectitude, or duty; any shortcoming, or neglect of care or performance, resulting from inattention, incapacity, or perversity; a wrong tendency, course, or act.
  • noun An occasion of blame or censure; a particular cause for reprehension or disapproval: as, to charge one with a fault, or find fault with one.
  • noun Blame; censure; reproach.
  • noun The act of losing the scent; a lost scent: said of sporting dogs.
  • noun In geology, a severing of the continuity of a body of rock by a break through the mass, attended by movement on one side or the other of the break, so that what were once parts of one continuous stratum are now separated.
  • noun In tennis, a stroke by which the server fails to drive the ball into the proper part of his opponent's court. See lawn-tennis.
  • noun In telegraphy, a new path opened to a current by any accident; a derived current, or derivation.
  • noun In hunting, thrown off the scent or the trail; unable to find the scent, as dogs.
  • noun Unable to proceed, by reason of some embarrassment or uncertainty; puzzled; out of bearing; astray.
  • noun Synonyms Flaw.
  • noun Misdeed, misdemeanor, transgression, wrong-doing, delinquency, weakness, slip, indiscretion.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Defect; want; lack; default.
  • noun Anything that fails, that is wanting, or that impairs excellence; a failing; a defect; a blemish.
  • noun A moral failing; a defect or dereliction from duty; a deviation from propriety; an offense less serious than a crime.
  • noun A dislocation of the strata of the vein.
  • noun In coal seams, coal rendered worthless by impurities in the seam
  • noun (Hunting) A lost scent; act of losing the scent.
  • noun (Tennis) Failure to serve the ball into the proper court.
  • noun (Elec.) A defective point in an electric circuit due to a crossing of the parts of the conductor, or to contact with another conductor or the earth, or to a break in the circuit.
  • noun (Geol. & Mining) A dislocation caused by a slipping of rock masses along a plane of facture; also, the dislocated structure resulting from such slipping.
  • noun unable to find the scent and continue chase; hence, in trouble or embarrassment, and unable to proceed; puzzled; thrown off the track.
  • noun to find reason for blaming or complaining; to express dissatisfaction; to complain; -- followed by with before the thing complained of; but formerly by at.
  • transitive verb obsolete To charge with a fault; to accuse; to find fault with; to blame.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English faulte, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *fallita, from variant of Latin falsa, feminine past participle of fallere, to deceive, fail.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French faute, faulte, from Middle English faulte, faute, from Anglo-Norman faute, faulte, from Vulgar Latin *fallita (“shortcoming”), from Latin falsus, perfect passive participle of fallō ("deceive"). Displaced native Middle English schuld, schuild ("fault") (from Old English scyld ("fault")), Middle English lac ("fault, lack") (from Middle Dutch lak ("lack, fault")), Middle English last ("fault, vice") (from Old Norse lǫstr, löstr ("fault, vice, crime")).


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  • Apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the saints, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, _through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault_. '

    Madame Delphine George Washington Cable 1884

  • She has by turns every fault under the sun, -- I say _fault_ only; will struggle with one for a day, and succumb to it for a month; while the smallest amount of praise is sufficient to render her incapable of deserving a word of commendation for a week.

    The Vicar's Daughter George MacDonald 1864

  • A fault done nrft ia the form of a beaft, — O Jove, a beaftly fault; and then another fault in the femblance of a fowl: - — think on't, Jove, a foul fault# When gods have hot backs, what (hall poor men do? for me, I am here a Windfor ftag, and the fatteft, I think, i 'th' fbreft.

    Works 1795

  • Its main fault is that justice repeats the offence.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night 2006

  • Gradually he comes to understand their fault is his own, running away instead of confronting what he finds abominable.

    Thunder Rock eddvick 2009

  • READDY: Well, obviously we're trying to build what we call the fault tree in the business and that is try and figure out all the possible things that might have gone wrong, and then what we do is work backwards and by process of elimination rule out those things that could not have been the causal factor.

    CNN Transcript Feb 2, 2003 2003

  • To the west of the fault is the Pacific plate, which runs beneath the ocean to the Mariana trench — where it disappears beneath the Philippine plate.

    Living on the Fault Line 1981

  • To the west of the fault is the Pacific plate, which runs beneath the ocean to the Mariana trench — where it disappears beneath the Philippine plate.

    Living on the Fault Line 1981

  • If we do not find them, if we fail to represent them, the fault is ours.

    Saul Bellow - Nobel Lecture 1976

  • If they occasionally misunderstand some of the fundamental principles of our Imperial Government, the fault is ours, because we haven't taken the trouble to explain to them clearly.

    The Empire In These Days 1943


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