• WordNet 3.6
    • v fail get worse "Her health is declining"
    • v fail stop operating or functioning "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"
    • v fail prove insufficient "The water supply for the town failed after a long drought"
    • v fail disappoint, prove undependable to; abandon, forsake "His sense of smell failed him this time","His strength finally failed him","His children failed him in the crisis"
    • v fail become bankrupt or insolvent; fail financially and close "The toy company went bankrupt after the competition hired cheap Mexican labor","A number of banks failed that year"
    • v fail fall short in what is expected "She failed in her obligations as a good daughter-in-law","We must not fail his obligation to the victims of the Holocaust"
    • v fail fail to get a passing grade "She studied hard but failed nevertheless","Did I fail the test?"
    • v fail judge unacceptable "The teacher failed six students"
    • v fail be unsuccessful "Where do today's public schools fail?","The attempt to rescue the hostages failed miserably"
    • v fail fail to do something; leave something undone "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"
    • v fail be unable "I fail to understand your motives"
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Joseph Gayetty is credited for inventing toilet paper in 1857. Unfortunately, his invention failed and did not catch on until ten years later
    • Fail Death; decease.
    • Fail Miscarriage; failure; deficiency; fault; -- mostly superseded by failure or failing, except in the phrase without fail. "His highness' fail of issue."
    • Fail To be affected with want; to come short; to lack; to be deficient or unprovided; -- used with of. "If ever they fail of beauty, this failure is not be attributed to their size."
    • Fail To be found wanting with respect to an action or a duty to be performed, a result to be secured, etc.; to miss; not to fulfill expectation. "Take heed now that ye fail not to do this.""Either my eyesight fails , or thou look'st pale."
    • Fail To be wanting to ; to be insufficient for; to disappoint; to desert. "There shall not fail thee a man on the throne."
    • Fail To be wanting; to fall short; to be or become deficient in any measure or degree up to total absence; to cease to be furnished in the usual or expected manner, or to be altogether cut off from supply; to be lacking; as, streams fail; crops fail. "As the waters fail from the sea.""Till Lionel's issue fails , his should not reign."
    • Fail 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; as, many credit unions failed in the late 1980's.
    • Fail To come short of a result or object aimed at or desired ; to be baffled or frusrated. "Our envious foe hath failed ."
    • Fail To deteriorate in respect to vigor, activity, resources, etc.; to become weaker; as, a sick man fails .
    • Fail To err in judgment; to be mistaken. "Which ofttimes may succeed, so as perhaps
      Shall grieve him, if I fail not."
    • Fail To fall away; to become diminished; to decline; to decay; to sink. "When earnestly they seek
      Such proof, conclude they then begin to fail ."
    • Fail To miss of attaining; to lose. "Though that seat of earthly bliss be failed ."
    • Fail To perish; to die; -- used of a person. "Had the king in his last sickness failed ."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: Of all the restaurants that are opened, 90% of them fail in the first year. Of the remaining ones that survive, 90% of those fail in the second year
    • fail To be or become deficient or lacking, as something expected or desired; fall short, cease, disappear, or be wanting, either wholly or partially; be insufficient or absent: as, the stream fails in summer; our supplies failed.
    • fail To decline; sink; grow faint; become weaker.
    • fail To come short or be wanting in action, detail, or result; disappoint or prove lacking in what is attempted, expected, desired, or approved: often followed by an infinitive or by of or in: as, he failed to come; the experiment failed of success; he fails in duty; the portrait fails in expression.
    • fail To become unable to meet one's engagements, especially one's debts or business obligations; become insolvent or bankrupt.
    • fail =Syn, 1. To fall short, come short, give out.
    • fail To wane, fade, weaken.
    • fail To come to naught, prove abortive.
    • fail To break, suspend payment.
    • fail To be wanting to; disappoint; desert; leave in the lurch.
    • fail To omit; leave unbestowed or unperformed; neglect to keep or observe: as, to fail an appointment.
    • fail To come short of; miss; lack.
    • fail To deceive; delude; mislead.
    • n fail Lack; absence or cessation.
    • n fail Failure; deficiency: now only in the phrase without fail (which see, below).
    • n fail A failure, failing, or fault.
    • n fail A piece cut off from the rest of the sward; a turf; a sod.
    • n fail A woman's upper garment. Halliwell. See faille.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Cindy Laupher had dyslexia and failed every subject in school.
    • n Fail fāl a turf, sod
    • v.i Fail fāl to fall short or be wanting (with in): to fall away: to decay: to die: to prove deficient under trial, examination, pressure, &c.: to miss: to be disappointed or baffled: to be unable to pay one's debts
    • v.t Fail to be wanting to: not to be sufficient for: to leave undone, omit: to disappoint or desert any one:—pr.p. fail′ing; pa.p. failed
    • n Fail (Shak.) failure
    • prep Fail in default of
    • ***


  • Emily Dickinson
    “Finite to fail, but infinite to venture.”
  • William Shakespeare
    “But screw your courage to the sticking-place and we'll not fail.”
  • Francois De La Rochefoucauld
    “It is not enough to succeed, others must fail.”
  • Douglas Malloch
    Douglas Malloch
    “It isn't by size that you win or fail -- be the best of whatever you are.”
  • Thomas B. Aldrich
    Thomas B. Aldrich
    “They fail, and they alone, who have not striven.”
  • Kenneth Ewart Boulding
    Kenneth Ewart Boulding
    “Nothing fails like success because we don't learn from it. We learn only from failure.”


Words fail me - If words fail you, you can't find the words to express what you are trying to say.


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
F. failir, fr. L. fallere, falsum, to deceive, akin to E. fall,. See Fail, and cf. Fallacy False Fault


In literature:

An examination of the mouth by inserting the hand fails to find any obstruction or any abnormal condition.
"Special Report on Diseases of the Horse" by United States Department of Agriculture
Once her resolution failed her.
"The History of Sir Richard Calmady" by Lucas Malet
The attempt to rally the Turcos failed.
"The Story of the Great War, Volume V (of 12)"
You may be a good lawyer, but I fail to follow your logic.
"The Root of Evil" by Thomas Dixon
If it fails, he must try again, until his observation is "true" and his device is "right.
"Folkways" by William Graham Sumner
Both of these monarchs failed in the objects of their existence.
"A Modern History, From the Time of Luther to the Fall of Napoleon" by John Lord
So failed the first congressional plan of reconstruction, as the President's earlier plan had failed.
"The Negro and the Nation" by George S. Merriam
And some who had failed to do anything at home, had succeeded there.
"Allison Bain" by Margaret Murray Robertson
If England fails us, the case is non-existent.
"William Pitt and the Great War" by John Holland Rose
If I fail, what does it matter?
"A Son of the Immortals" by Louis Tracy

In poetry:

By rule of hour and flower,
By strength of stern restraint
And power
To fail and not to faint.
"Art" by Alfred Noyes
Beside a train,
Because they saw her go,
Or failed to see her,
Travellers and watchers know
Another pain.
"Unknown" by Edward Thomas
Only a fool would fail
To praise God in His might
When the tiny mindless birds
Praise Him in their flight.
"God's Praises" by Anonymous Irish
Sir, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger,
Fails my heart I know not how
I can go no longer.
"A Nightly Deed" by Charles Madge
Be Thou at my right hand,
Then can I never fail;
Uphold Thou me, and I shall stand,
Fight, and I must prevail.
"For ever with the Lord!" by James Montgomery
Lost on the Lady Elgin!
Sleeping to wake no more!
Number'd in that three hundred,
Who fail'd to reach the shore!
"Lost on the Lady Elgin" by Henry Clay Work

In news:

Indiana's Damarlo Belcher failed drug test.
Now we know why Damarlo Belcher got booted off Indiana's football team in the middle of the season last year: He failed a drug test.
I fail to understand the near manic obsession of the left wing of the Democratic Party and its well left-of-center columnists, syndicated or otherwise, in demonizing Sarah Palin.
Retailer begins liquidizing assets after failing to find a buyer.
Food & drink fail: Belvedere rape ad, Rihanna burger, Kraft gaffe.
An ailing heir who tried but failed to have her poems published in a small literary journal has given that journal an astonishing bequest that is likely to be worth more than $100 million.
President Obama has FAILED on his promise to end federal agencies fucking with the states' medical marijuana programs.
O'Neill fails 9 months ago.
Alabama Superintendent Tommy Bice , shown at a June 13 meeting, imposed a financial plan on the Birmingham school board had failed to approve it.
You also notice that the car, without fail, is always referred to as "she" or "her", and never with an impersonal "it".
Black Monday Echoes as Computers Fail to Restore Confidence.
That is, voter fraud — or if that fails, intimidation.
And every failing owner has an excuse.
Black Monday Echoes as Computers Fail to Restore Confidence.
Hampden restaurant blew it big time — first by posting a racist photo, then by failing to offer a real apology.

In science:

Next we estimate the number of polynomials g that satisfy hypothesis (2) of Lemma 9 but that fail to satisfy hypothesis (3).
On the existence of absolutely simple abelian varieties of a given dimension over an arbitrary field
Finally we estimate the number of polynomials g that satisfy hypothesis (2) of Lemma 9 but that fail to satisfy hypothesis (1).
On the existence of absolutely simple abelian varieties of a given dimension over an arbitrary field
P that reproduces the numerical P (h1 ) is a constant one, whereas all other functional forms of ˆP fail, see Fig. 3.
Energy landscapes in random systems, driven interfaces and wetting
They report that shift-register generators will fail such tests but that congruential generators usually pass.
Random matrix theory over finite fields: a survey
However, his methods fail to prove the consistency of the tree property on ℵ2 and ℵ3 together.
On the consistency of the definable tree property on \aleph_1