Definitions

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

  • noun Failure to perform a task or fulfill an obligation, especially failure to meet a financial obligation.
  • noun Law Failure of a party in a case to make a required court appearance.
  • noun The failure of one or more competitors or teams to participate in a contest.
  • noun Computers A particular setting or value for a variable that is assigned automatically by an operating system and remains in effect unless canceled or overridden by the operator.
  • noun A situation or condition that obtains in the absence of active intervention.
  • intransitive verb To fail to do what is required.
  • intransitive verb To fail to pay money when it is due.
  • intransitive verb Computers To revert to a default.
  • intransitive verb To fail to appear in court as a party to a case when summoned.
  • intransitive verb To lose a case by not appearing.
  • intransitive verb To fail to take part in or complete a scheduled contest.
  • intransitive verb To fail to perform or pay.
  • intransitive verb Law To lose (a case) by failing to appear in court.
  • intransitive verb To fail to take part in or complete (a contest, for example).
  • idiom (in default of) Through the failure, absence, or lack of.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To fail in fulfilling or satisfying an engagement, claim, or obligation; especially, to fail in meeting a legal or pecuniary obligation at the proper time, as appearance in court, the payment of a debt, or the accounting for funds intrusted to one's care: as, a defaulting defendant or debtor; he has defaulted on his bond, or in his trust.
  • To fail in duty; offend.
  • To omit; neglect.
  • To fail in the performance of.
  • In law, to declare (a defendant) in default and enter judgment against (him).
  • noun A failing or failure; an omission of that which ought to be done; neglect to do what duty, obligation, or law requires; specifically, in law, a failure to perform a required act in a lawsuit within the required time, as to plead or appear in court, or omission to meet a pecuniary obligation when due.
  • noun Lack; want; failure; defect.
  • noun A fault; an offense; a misdeed; a wrong act.
  • noun In hunting, a lost scent.

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

  • intransitive verb To fail in duty; to offend.
  • intransitive verb To fail in fulfilling a contract, agreement, or duty.
  • intransitive verb To fail to appear in court; to let a case go by default.
  • noun A failing or failure; omission of that which ought to be done; neglect to do what duty or law requires.
  • noun Fault; offense; ill deed; wrong act; failure in virtue or wisdom.
  • noun (Law) A neglect of, or failure to take, some step necessary to secure the benefit of law, as a failure to appear in court at a day assigned, especially of the defendant in a suit when called to make answer; also of jurors, witnesses, etc.
  • noun in case of failure or lack of.
  • noun (Law) to permit an action to be called without appearing to answer.
  • transitive verb To fail to perform or pay; to be guilty of neglect of; to omit.
  • transitive verb (Law) To call a defendant or other party whose duty it is to be present in court, and make entry of his default, if he fails to appear; to enter a default against.
  • transitive verb obsolete To leave out of account; to omit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun finance The condition of failing to meet an obligation.
  • noun electronics, computing the original software programming settings as set by the factory
  • noun A loss incurred by failing to compete.
  • noun A selection made in the absence of an alternative.
  • noun A value used when none has been given; a tentative value or standard that is presumed.
  • noun law The failure of a defendant to appear and answer a summons and complaint.
  • verb intransitive To fail to meet an obligation.
  • verb intransitive To lose a competition by failing to compete.
  • verb intransitive, computing To assume a value when none was given; to presume a tentative value or standard.
  • verb intransitive, law To fail to appear and answer a summons and complaint.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun loss resulting from failure of a debt to be paid
  • verb fail to pay up

Etymologies

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

[Middle English defaute, from Old French, from past participle of defaillir, to fail, grow weak : de-, intensive pref.; see de– + faillir; see fail.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Old French defaute ("fault, defect, failure, culpability, lack"), ultimately from Latin de- ("away") + fallo ("deceive, cheat, escape notice of")

Examples

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Comments

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  • The two sweetest words in the English language.

    January 7, 2007

  • I’m looking for another word for the meaning “an option that is selected automatically unless an alternative is specified�?, one that is less ambiguous.

    (Is default commonly used in that meaning or is my proximity to computer science clouding my judgment?)

    And then I have a question concerning the pronunciation: The dictionary only lists /dɪˈfɔlt/ but I frequently hear (American) native speakers say /ˈdifɔlt/. Have you made similar observations?

    Thanks!

    October 1, 2009

  • I'd say the "standard" option could do what you wanted. As for pronunciation, Americans would all probably know the correct pronunciation, but in casual speech let the vowel be shortened.

    October 5, 2009