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FAIL

Pronunciation (US): 

 Dictionary entry overview: What does fail mean? 

FAIL (verb)
  The verb FAIL has 11 senses:

1. fail to do something; leave something undone
2. be unsuccessful
3. disappoint, prove undependable to; abandon, forsake
4. stop operating or functioning
5. be unable
6. judge unacceptable
7. fail to get a passing grade
8. fall short in what is expected
9. become bankrupt or insolvent; fail financially and close
10. prove insufficient
11. get worse

  Familiarity information: FAIL used as a verb is familiar.


 Dictionary entry details 


FAIL (verb)


Sense 1fail [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Fail to do something; leave something undone

Classified under:

Verbs of political and social activities and events

Synonyms:

fail; neglect

Context examples:

She failed to notice that her child was no longer in his crib / The secretary failed to call the customer and the company lost the account

Troponyms (each of the following is one way to "fail"):

strike out (put out or be put out by a strikeout)

default; default on (fail to pay up)

choke (fail to perform adequately due to tension or agitation)

muff (fail to catch, as of a ball)

miss (fail to attend an event or activity)

Sentence frame:

Somebody ----s to INFINITIVE


Sense 2fail [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Be unsuccessful

Classified under:

Verbs of political and social activities and events

Synonyms:

go wrong; miscarry; fail

Context examples:

Where do today's public schools fail? / The attempt to rescue the hostages failed miserably

Troponyms (each of the following is one way to "fail"):

fall flat; fall through; flop; founder (fail utterly; collapse)

shipwreck (suffer failure, as in some enterprise)

fall (suffer defeat, failure, or ruin)

strike out (be unsuccessful in an endeavor)

ball up; blow; bobble; bodge; bollix; bollix up; bollocks; bollocks up; botch; botch up; bumble; bungle; flub; fluff; foul up; fuck up; fumble; louse up; mess up; mishandle; muck up; muff; screw up; spoil (make a mess of, destroy or ruin)

overreach (fail by aiming too high or trying too hard)

miss (fail to reach or get to)

take it on the chin (undergo failure or defeat)

Sentence frames:

Something ----s
Somebody ----s
Something is ----ing PP
Somebody ----s PP

Antonym:

succeed (attain success or reach a desired goal)


Sense 3fail [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Disappoint, prove undependable to; abandon, forsake

Classified under:

Verbs of feeling

Synonyms:

fail; betray

Context examples:

His sense of smell failed him this time / His strength finally failed him / His children failed him in the crisis

Hypernyms (to "fail" is one way to...):

disappoint; let down (fail to meet the hopes or expectations of)

Sentence frames:

Somebody ----s somebody
Something ----s somebody


Sense 4fail [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Stop operating or functioning

Classified under:

Verbs of size, temperature change, intensifying, etc.

Synonyms:

go bad; conk out; give way; give out; fail; die; break down; break; go

Context examples:

The engine finally went / The car died on the road / The bus we travelled in broke down on the way to town / The coffee maker broke / The engine failed on the way to town / her eyesight went after the accident

Hypernyms (to "fail" is one way to...):

change (undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature)

Troponyms (each of the following is one way to "fail"):

crash; go down (stop operating)

blow; blow out; burn out (melt, break, or become otherwise unusable)

misfire (fail to fire or detonate)

malfunction; misfunction (fail to function or function improperly)

Sentence frame:

Something ----s

Sentence example:

These cars won't fail


Sense 5fail [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Be unable

Classified under:

Verbs of political and social activities and events

Context example:

I fail to understand your motives

Sentence frame:

Somebody ----s to INFINITIVE

Antonym:

manage (be successful; achieve a goal)


Sense 6fail [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Judge unacceptable

Classified under:

Verbs of political and social activities and events

Context example:

The teacher failed six students

Hypernyms (to "fail" is one way to...):

evaluate; judge; pass judgment (form a critical opinion of)

Sentence frame:

Somebody ----s somebody

Antonym:

pass (accept or judge as acceptable)


Sense 7fail [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Fail to get a passing grade

Classified under:

Verbs of political and social activities and events

Synonyms:

flunk; flush it; bomb; fail

Context examples:

She studied hard but failed nevertheless / Did I fail the test?

Sentence frames:

Somebody ----s
Somebody ----s something

Antonym:

pass (go successfully through a test or a selection process)


Sense 8fail [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Fall short in what is expected

Classified under:

Verbs of political and social activities and events

Context examples:

She failed in her obligations as a good daughter-in-law / We must not fail his obligation to the victims of the Holocaust

Sentence frames:

Somebody ----s something
Somebody ----s PP


Sense 9fail [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Become bankrupt or insolvent; fail financially and close

Classified under:

Verbs of buying, selling, owning

Context examples:

The toy company went bankrupt after the competition hired cheap Mexican labor / A number of banks failed that year

Sentence frames:

Something ----s
Somebody ----s


Sense 10fail [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Prove insufficient

Classified under:

Verbs of size, temperature change, intensifying, etc.

Synonyms:

give out; run out; fail

Context example:

The water supply for the town failed after a long drought

Sentence frame:

Something ----s


Sense 11fail [BACK TO TOP]

Meaning:

Get worse

Classified under:

Verbs of size, temperature change, intensifying, etc.

Context example:

Her health is declining

Hypernyms (to "fail" is one way to...):

decline; worsen (grow worse)

Sentence frame:

Something ----s


 Learn English with... Proverbs of the week 
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions." (English proverb)

"When the poor man is burried, the large bell of the parish is silent" (Breton proverb)

"If talk is silver then silence is gold." (Arabic proverb)

"Think before acting and whilst acting still think." (Dutch proverb)

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