- a defect or imperfection; flaw; failing: a fault in the brakes; a fault in one’s character.
- responsibility for failure or a wrongful act: It is my fault that we have not finished.
- an error or mistake: a fault in addition.
- a misdeed or transgression: to confess one’s faults.
- Sports. (in tennis, handball, etc.)
- a ball that when served does not land in the proper section of an opponent’s court.
- a failure to serve the ball according to the rules, as from within a certain area.
- Geology, Mining. a break in the continuity of a body of rock or of a vein, with dislocation along the plane of the fracture (fault plane).
- Manège. (of a horse jumping in a show) any of a number of improper executions in negotiating a jump, as a tick, knockdown, refusal, or run-out.
- Electricity. a partial or total local failure in the insulation or continuity of a conductor or in the functioning of an electric system.
- Hunting. a break in the line of scent; a losing of the scent; check.
- Obsolete. lack; want.
verb (used without object)
- to commit a fault; blunder; err.
- Geology. to undergo faulting.
verb (used with object)
- Geology. to cause a fault in.
- to find fault with, blame, or censure.
- at fault,
- open to censure; blameworthy: to be at fault for a mistake.
- in a dilemma; puzzled: to be at fault as to where to go.
- (of hounds) unable to find the scent.
- find fault, to seek and make known defects or flaws; complain; criticize: He constantly found fault with my behavior.
- to a fault, to an extreme degree; excessively: She was generous to a fault.
- an imperfection; failing or defect; flaw
- a mistake or error
- an offence; misdeed
- responsibility for a mistake or misdeed; culpability
- electronics a defect in a circuit, component, or line, such as a short circuit
- geology a fracture in the earth’s crust resulting in the relative displacement and loss of continuity of the rocks on either side of it
- tennis squash badminton an invalid serve, such as one that lands outside a prescribed area
- (in showjumping) a penalty mark given for failing to clear or refusing a fence, exceeding a time limit, etc
- hunting an instance of the hounds losing the scent
- deficiency; lack; want
- at fault
- guilty of error; culpable
- (of hounds) having temporarily lost the scent
- find fault to seek out minor imperfections or errors (in); carp (at)
- to a fault excessively
- geology to undergo or cause to undergo a fault
- (tr) to find a fault in, criticize, or blame
- (intr) to commit a fault
late 13c., faute, “deficiency,” from Old French faute (12c.) “opening, gap; failure, flaw, blemish; lack, deficiency,” from Vulgar Latin *fallita “a shortcoming, falling,” noun use of fem. past participle, from Latin falsus “deceptive, feigned, spurious,” past participle of fallere “deceive, disappoint” (see fail).
The -l- was restored 16c., probably in imitation of Latin, but was not pronounced till 18c. Sense of “physical defect” is from early 14c.; that of “moral culpability” is first recorded late 14c. Geological sense is from 1796. The use in tennis (c.1600) is closer to the etymological sense.
late 14c., Scottish, “be deficient;” see fault (n.). Meaning “find fault with” is from mid-15c. Related: Faulted; faulter; faulting.
- A fracture in a rock formation along which there has been movement of the blocks of rock on either side of the plane of fracture. Faults are caused by plate-tectonic forces. See more at normal fault reverse fault strike-slip fault thrust fault transform fault. See Note at earthquake.
see at fault; find fault; to a fault.