WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2017
fail /feɪl/USA pronunciation   v. 
  1. to fall short of success or achievement;
    to be unsuccessful (in doing):[no object]The experiment failed.
  2. (of some expected or usual resource) to turn out to be of no use or help to:[+ object]His friends failed him.
  3. to receive less than the passing grade or mark in (an examination, class, or course of study): [no object]After your last test I'm afraid you are failing.[+ object]You are failing the course.
  4. to give less than a passing grade in a course of study to (someone):[+ object]The teacher failed him because he missed too many classes.
  5. to lose vigor;
    become weak:[no object]The runner's strength failed.
  6. to become unable to meet or pay debts or business obligations:[no object]The banks failed because of bad investments.
Idioms
  1. Idiomswithout fail, with certainty;
    positively:Be in my office at nine o'clock without fail.


WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
fail  (fāl),USA pronunciation v.i. 
  1. to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved:The experiment failed because of poor planning.
  2. to receive less than the passing grade or mark in an examination, class, or course of study:He failed in history.
  3. to be or become deficient or lacking;
    be insufficient or absent;
    fall short:Our supplies failed.
  4. to dwindle, pass, or die away:The flowers failed for lack of rain.
  5. to lose strength or vigor;
    become weak:His health failed after the operation.
  6. to become unable to meet or pay debts or business obligations;
    become insolvent or bankrupt.
  7. (of a building member, structure, machine part, etc.) to break, bend, crush, or be otherwise destroyed or made useless because of an excessive load.
  8. to stop functioning or operating:The electricity failed during the storm.

v.t. 
  1. to be unsuccessful in the performance or completion of:He failed to do his duty.
  2. (of some expected or usual resource) to prove of no use or help to:His friends failed him. Words failed her.
  3. to receive less than a passing grade or mark in:He failed history.
  4. 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.

n. 
  1. Stock Exchange, Business
    • a stockbroker's inability to deliver or receive security within the required time after sale or purchase.
    • Businesssuch an undelivered security.
  2. [Obs.]failure as to performance, occurrence, etc.
  3. Idiomswithout fail, with certainty;
    positively:I will visit you tomorrow without fail.
  • Vulgar Latin *fallīre, for Latin fallere to disappoint, deceive
  • Anglo-French, Old French faillir
  • Middle English failen 1175–1225


Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

fail /feɪl/ vb
  1. to be unsuccessful in an attempt (at something or to do something)
  2. (intransitive) to stop operating or working properly: the steering failed suddenly
  3. to judge or be judged as being below the officially accepted standard required for success in (a course, examination, etc)
  4. (transitive) to prove disappointing, undependable, or useless to (someone)
  5. (transitive) to neglect or be unable (to do something)
  6. (intransitive) to prove partly or completely insufficient in quantity, duration, or extent
  7. (intransitive) to weaken; fade away
  8. (intransitive) to go bankrupt or become insolvent
n
  1. a failure to attain the required standard, as in an examination
  2. without faildefinitely; with certainty
Etymology: 13th Century: from Old French faillir, ultimately from Latin fallere to disappoint; probably related to Greek phēlos deceitful



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