From Middle English failen, from Anglo-Norman faillir, from Vulgar Latin *fallire, alteration of Latin fallere (“to deceive, disappoint”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰāl- (“to lie, deceive”) or Proto-Indo-European *sgʷʰh₂el- (“to stumble”). Compare Dutch feilen, falen (“to fail, miss”), German fehlen (“to fail, miss, lack”), Danish fejle (“to fail, err”), Swedish fela (“to fail, be wanting, do wrong”), Icelandic feila (“to fail”), Spanish fallar (“to fail, miss”).
- (intransitive) To be unsuccessful.
- 2013 August 10, “A new prescription”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
- As the world’s drug habit shows, governments are failing in their quest to monitor every London window-box and Andean hillside for banned plants. But even that Sisyphean task looks easy next to the fight against synthetic drugs. No sooner has a drug been blacklisted than chemists adjust their recipe and start churning out a subtly different one.
- Throughout my life, I have always failed.
- (transitive) Not to achieve a particular stated goal. (Usage note: The direct object of this word is usually an infinitive.)
- The truck failed to start.
- (transitive) To neglect.
- The report fails to take into account all the mitigating factors.
- (intransitive, of a machine, etc.) To cease to operate correctly.
- After running five minutes, the engine failed.
- (transitive) To be wanting to, to be insufficient for, to disappoint, to desert.
- Bible, 1 Kings ii. 4
- There shall not fail thee a man on the throne.
- 1843, Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, book 3, ch. II, Gospel of Mammonism
- A poor Irish Widow […] went forth with her three children, bare of all resource, to solicit help from the Charitable Establishments of that City. At this Charitable Establishment and then at that she was refused; referred from one to the other, helped by none; — till she had exhausted them all; till her strength and heart failed her: she sank down in typhus-fever […]
- 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 2, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
- That the young Mr. Churchills liked—but they did not like him coming round of an evening and drinking weak whisky-and-water while he held forth on railway debentures and corporation loans. Mr. Barrett, however, by fawning and flattery, seemed to be able to make not only Mrs. Churchill but everyone else do what he desired. And if the arts of humbleness failed him, he overcame you by sheer impudence.
- Bible, 1 Kings ii. 4
- (transitive, intransitive) To receive one or more non-passing grades in academic pursuits.
- I failed English last year.
- I failed in English last year.
- (transitive) To give a student a non-passing grade in an academic endeavour.
- The professor failed me because I did not complete any of the course assignments.
- (transitive, obsolete) To miss attaining; to lose.
- To be wanting; to fall short; to be or become deficient in any measure or degree up to total absence.
- The crops failed last year.
- (archaic) To be affected with want; to come short; to lack; to be deficient or unprovided; used with of.
- (archaic) To fall away; to become diminished; to decline; to decay; to sink.
- (archaic) To deteriorate in respect to vigour, activity, resources, etc.; to become weaker.
- A sick man fails.
- (obsolete) To perish; to die; used of a person.
- (obsolete) To err in judgment; to be mistaken.
- 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.
- (to be unsuccessful): fall on one's face
- (to be unsuccessful): succeed
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
- (uncountable, slang) Poor quality; substandard workmanship.
- The project was full of fail.
- (slang) A failure (condition of being unsuccessful)
- (slang, US) A failure (something incapable of success)
- A failure, especially of a financial transaction (a termination of an action).
- A failing grade in an academic examination.
You can help Wiktionary by providing a proper etymology.
fail (plural fails)
- A piece of turf cut from grassland.
- fail in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
- fail in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.
- fail at OneLook Dictionary Search
Forms with the definite article
|Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.|
fail (plural fail-fail)
- file (collection of papers)
- information or a document about someone, something etc.
- (computing) file (aggregation of data on a storage device)
fail (used in the form memfailkan)
- file (commit papers)
- file (to archive)
- (computing) file (store computer data)
- (with untuk) file (make a formal request)
- Alternative form of