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From Middle English faute, faulte, from Anglo-Norman faute, Old French faute, from Vulgar Latin *fallita (shortcoming), feminine of *fallitus, in place of 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)). Compare French faute (fault, foul), Portuguese falta (lack, shortage) and Spanish falta (lack, absence). More at fail, false.



fault (plural faults)

  1. A defect; something that detracts from perfection.
    • Shakespeare
      As patches set upon a little breach / Discredit more in hiding of the fault.
  2. A mistake or error.
    No! This is my fault, not yours.
  3. A weakness of character; a failing.
    For all her faults, she’s a good person at heart.
  4. A minor offense.
  5. Blame; the responsibility for a mistake.
    The fault lies with you.
  6. (seismology) A fracture in a rock formation causing a discontinuity.
  7. (mining) In coal seams, coal rendered worthless by impurities in the seam.
    slate fault  dirt fault
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Raymond to this entry?)
  8. (tennis) An illegal serve.
  9. (electrical) An abnormal connection in a circuit.
  10. (obsolete) want; lack
    • Shakespeare
      one, it pleases me, for fault of a better, to call my friend
  11. (hunting) A lost scent; act of losing the scent.
    • Shakespeare
      Ceasing their clamorous cry till they have singled, / With much ado, the cold fault clearly out.


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit



fault (third-person singular simple present faults, present participle faulting, simple past and past participle faulted)

  1. (transitive) To criticize, blame or find fault with something or someone.
    • Traditional song
      For that I will not fault thee / But for humbleness exalt thee.
  2. (intransitive, geology) To fracture.
  3. (intransitive) To commit a mistake or error.
  4. (intransitive, computing) To undergo a page fault.
    • 2002, Æleen Frisch, Essential system administration
      When a page is read in, a few pages surrounding the faulted page are typically loaded as well in the same I/O operation in an effort to head off future page faults.





  1. Obsolete spelling of faut (third-person singular present indicative of falloir)




  1. Second-person plural present of faulen.
  2. Third-person singular present of faulen.
  3. Imperative plural of faulen.