verb (used without object)
- to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved: The experiment failed because of poor planning.
- to receive less than the passing grade or mark in an examination, class, or course of study: He failed in history.
- to be or become deficient or lacking; be insufficient or absent; fall short: Our supplies failed.
- to dwindle, pass, or die away: The flowers failed for lack of rain.
- to lose strength or vigor; become weak: His health failed after the operation.
- to become unable to meet or pay debts or business obligations; become insolvent or bankrupt.
- (of a building member, structure, machine part, etc.) to break, bend, crush, or be otherwise destroyed or made useless because of an excessive load.
- to stop functioning or operating: The electricity failed during the storm.
- to make an embarrassing or humorous mistake, be in a humiliating situation, etc., and be subject to ridicule: Showed up late to the wedding? You fail!
- to be embarrassingly incompetent, stupid, etc.: She fails at life. I just failed at walking and fell on my face.
- to be bad or of inferior quality: The play is terrible—even the music fails.
verb (used with object)
- to be unsuccessful in the performance or completion of: He failed to do his duty.
- (of some expected or usual resource) to prove of no use or help to: His friends failed him. Words failed her.
- to receive less than a passing grade or mark in: He failed history.
- to declare (a person) unsuccessful in a test, course of study, etc.; give less than a passing grade to: The professor failed him in history.
- an embarrassing or humorous mistake, humiliating situation, etc., that is subject to ridicule and given an exaggerated importance: Their app update is a massive fail.
- the condition or quality resulting from having failed in this way: His online post is full of fail.
- a person who fails in this way.
- Stock Exchange.
- a stockbroker’s inability to deliver or receive security within the required time after sale or purchase.
- such an undelivered security.
- Obsolete. failure as to performance, occurrence, etc.
- (used to mock an embarrassing or humorous mistake, humiliating situation, etc., giving it an exaggerated importance): A tattoo that misspells your name? Fail!
- (used to indicate that something is bad or of inferior quality)
- unsuccessful; failed: a totally fail policy.
- of or noting an embarrassing or humorous mistake, humiliating situation, etc.: the top 100 funniest fail photos on the Internet.
- embarrassingly incompetent, stupid, etc: Why am I so fail?
- very bad or of inferior quality.
- without fail, with certainty; positively: I will visit you tomorrow without fail.
- to be unsuccessful in an attempt (at something or to do something)
- (intr) to stop operating or working properlythe steering failed suddenly
- to judge or be judged as being below the officially accepted standard required for success in (a course, examination, etc)
- (tr) to prove disappointing, undependable, or useless to (someone)
- (tr) to neglect or be unable (to do something)
- (intr) to prove partly or completely insufficient in quantity, duration, or extent
- (intr) to weaken; fade away
- (intr) to go bankrupt or become insolvent
- a failure to attain the required standard, as in an examination
- without fail definitely; with certainty
- Scot a turf; sod
early 13c., from Old French falir (11c., Modern French faillir) “be lacking, miss, not succeed,” from Vulgar Latin *fallire, from Latin fallere “to trip, cause to fall;” figuratively “to deceive, trick, dupe, cheat, elude; fail, be lacking or defective.” Related: Failed; failing. Replaced Old English abreoðan.
see without fail; words fail me.